Siya Kolisi back in Springboks squad, but doubts remain about captaincy

Springbok captain Siya Kolisi celebrates with the fans during the Springboks 2023 World Cup trophy parade. Picture: Wikus de Wet / AFP

Springbok captain Siya Kolisi celebrates with the fans during the Springboks 2023 World Cup trophy parade. Picture: Wikus de Wet / AFP

Published Jun 25, 2024


Double World Cup-winning Springboks captain Siya Kolisi has been called up for the home Test series against Ireland and the one-off Test against Portugal.

Kolisi had an up and down season with his new French club side Racing 92, starting well before an injury influenced a loss of form towards the end of their season.

In a recent interview, Racing boss Jacky Lorenzetti criticised Kolisi for excessive weight, losing shape and was “transparent” in their Top 14 playoff defeat against Bordeaux.

But Kolisi, who was instrumental in the Springboks’ back-to-back Rugby World Cup wins, was included in a strong 39-man squad for the incoming Test series. He already joined his teammates in London over the weekend, where he was spotted on the touchline during the Springboks’ win over Wales.

It’s still in unclear if Kolisi will keep the captaincy after coach Rassie Erasmus hinted that there could be a change in leadership as he preferred a captain who is SA-based.

Pieter-Steph du Toit captained the Boks in the Test against Wales, but was only appointed for that match.

Meanwhile, the Boks called up two more uncapped players named in the squad, with Bulls hooker Johan Grobbelaar and front rower Jan-Hendrik Wessels joining the team after the United Rugby Championship final.



Key players Cheslin Kolbe and Lukhanyo Am were also included in the team after successful rehab on their injuries.

World Cup hero Handre Pollard and Jasper Wiese, who trained with the team but were ineligible for selection due to the Wales Test falling outside of the international window have also been named in the squad, although Wiese will only be available for selection once he completes his suspension from a dangerous tackle.

There is also strong core, with Rugby World Cup winners RG Snyman (lock), Marco van Staden, Kurt-Lee Arendse and Willie le Roux all back with the team.

Three of the players who made their Test debuts against Wales, Edwill van der Merwe, Ben-Jason Dixon and Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu, were also included in the group.

Erasmus, however, declared that three players Faf de Klerk (quadriceps), Van der Merwe (shoulder) and Makazole Mapimpi (hamstring) had picked up niggles in the Wales Test – but he was satisfied that there was enough cover in the squad with Arendse, Kolbe and Am available for selection.

Eight players, meanwhile, were ruled out of contention for selection due to injury, namely Steven Kitshoff, Jean Kleyn, Lood de Jager, Cameron Hanekom, Jaden Hendrikse, Henco van Wyk, Canan Moodie and Damian Willemse.

“Unfortunately, a handful of players are carrying injuries and were ruled out of the selection mix, but our plan to build depth in the last few years and expose players to Test rugby in the build-up to the 2023 World Cup and against Wales last weekend certainly paid off.

“It’s great to have the overseas-based and Bulls players back in the mix and with many of them being Rugby World Cup-winners, they will bring experience and calm heads to the team,” said Erasmus.



“Over and above that, some of the young players who were part of our travelling squad to London really impressed us over the last two weeks, and while some of them have been included in this group, we were limited in terms of the number of players we could pick, so there will always be a few unlucky players.”

The 39-man squad gathered in Pretoria on Tuesday and will continue with their training schedule, despite arriving in South Africa a day later than expected after their flight from London to South Africa was cancelled on Sunday night.

They will return home for the weekend to spend time with their families and resume their Test week training schedule on Monday July 1 for the clash against Ireland at Loftus Versfeld.

Springbok squad for Incoming Series:

Forwards: Phepsi Buthelezi (Sharks), Ben-Jason Dixon (Stormers), Pieter-Steph du Toit (Toyota Verblitz), Thomas du Toit (Bath), Eben Etzebeth (Sharks). Johan Grobbelaar (Bulls), Vincent Koch (Sharks), Siya Kolisi (Racing 92), Frans Malherbe (Stormers), Malcolm Marx (Kubota Spears), Bongi Mbonambi (Sharks), Salmaan Moerat (Stormers), Franco Mostert (Honda Heat), Ox Nche (Sharks), Trevor Nyakane (Racing 92 / Sharks), Evan Roos (Stormers), Kwagga Smith (Blu Revs), RG Snyman (Munster / Leinster), Gerhard Steenekamp (Bulls), Marco van Staden (Bulls), Jan-Hendrik Wessels (Bulls), Jasper Wiese (Leicester Tigers).

Backs: Lukhanyo Am (Sharks), Kurt-Lee Arendse (Bulls), Damian de Allende (Wild Knights), Faf de Klerk (Canon Eagles), Andre Esterhuizen (Harlequins / Hollywoodbets Sharks), Aphelele Fassi (Sharks), Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu (Stormers), Cheslin Kolbe (Suntory Sungoliath), Jesse Kriel (Canon Eagles), Wilie le Roux (Bulls), Manie Libbok (Stormers), Makazole Mapimpi (Sharks), Handre Pollard (Leicester Tigers), Cobus Reinach (Montpellier), Morne van den Berg (Lions), Edwill van der Merwe (Lions), Grant Williams (Sharks).