Siya the first amongst equals in Bok squad
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CAPE TOWN – Over the next few weeks, our rugby writers will be debating their Springbok choices from No 15 to No 1 for the upcoming series against the British & Irish Lions.
Today we focus on No 6:
Mike Greenaway’s Choice: Marcell Coetzee
A rugby writer has to be honest to be respected. And this exercise that you are reading is about picking the form players to do battle against the Lions. And that is why I am picking Coetzee. Oops, the Springbok selectors just omitted the Man of the Match for the Bulls against the Stormers on Friday night ... Look, I understand that Siya Kolisi contributes much more to the greater Springbok picture than simply his ability as a player, but in terms of sheer form, he is some way off Coetzee and his Bulls teammate Marco van Staden. In 2015, Heyneke Meyer picked a young Kolisi ahead of Coetzee, who was colossal for the Sharks, for the Rugby World Cup. In 2021, history is repeating itself.
Ashfak Mohamed’s Choice: Siya Kolisi
Kolisi needed a fresh environment to get over his injury and form issues, and the move to the Sharks from the Stormers has worked a treat. The Bok captain is quickly getting to the same standard he had reached in the World Cup play-offs. He will hope to continue that journey in the final Rainbow
Cup clash against the Bulls on Saturday by getting more touches on the ball, while work-rate on defence will also improve. More fitness work in the Bok camp in Bloemfontein will ensure he’s 100% against Georgia. Bulls No 6 Marco van Staden is the next in line, and has shown that he is much more than a fetcher in the Rainbow Cup by consistently breaking tackles with ball-in-hand.
Wynona Louw’s choice: Siya Kolisi
During the Springbok squad announcement for the two Tests against Georgia and the British and Irish Lions Series at the weekend, when Bok coach Jacques Nienaber was asked whether Kolisi would retain the captaincy, he said: “Yes, yes, 100%. We didn’t announce him (as captain) but nothing has changed.” While Kolisi wasn’t at his best last year - a situation made even tougher by the disruptions brought on by the pandemic and injury - he has steadily worked his way back to form since joining the Sharks earlier this year. A return to the kind of form that saw him elevated to Stormers captain would be one of the best things that can happen to the Springboks when the Lions touch down in SA.
Morgan Bolton’s choice: Siya Kolisi
O Captain! My captain! There can be no doubt that Kolisi’s leadership qualities is just as important as his form for the Boks. Many will argue, however, that the flank has not been at his best, despite marginal improvement these past weeks. Kolisi, however, is a different player when he puts on that Green and Gold jersey - he has proven it on every occasion he has played for the national team, even as recently as the World Cup when similar questions where forwarded about that particular doubt. We haven’t seen much of Jasper Wiese, but if European reports are to believed the young man is the future of Bok rugby. The experienced Kwagga Smith, however, remains my preferred second option no matter how well the Du Preez brothers, Marco van Staden or Wiese are playing at the moment.