Springboks are 'not worried at all' about being without captain Siya Kolisi for first Lions Test
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CAPE TOWN - SPRINGBOK assistant coach Mzwandile Stick says they are “not worried at all” about the possibility of going into the first Test of the Series against the British & Irish Lions without regular skipper Siya Kolisi.
Kolisi is one of several players who have been self-isolating in Johannesburg for the past 10 days after returning positive Covid-19 tests following their win over Georgia a fortnight ago.
Speaking during a media briefing yesterday, Stick delivered some positive news and confirmed that most of those players have already returned to training in Cape Town ahead of their Series opener at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday. He added that Kolisi and Makazole Mapimpi would see a specialist before a final call is made on their availability.
“We trust the process and protocols in place. We want to stick to the plans. I am hoping for them to get great news but, if not, we have got great players in our squad.
“Even if Siya is not fit to play, we trust all the other guys who can play in that position. You look at a guy like Rynhardt Elstadt, Marco van Staden, Jasper Wiese, any of those guys could be selected. We trust them and believe in them that they have what it takes to do the job for us.”
From a captaincy perspective, Stick wasn’t too worried about their options either.
“We have got great leaders in our side. For example, Handre Pollard has been vice-captain for a while. We have a guy like Lukhanyo (Am), who can also lead a team. We’ve got Eben (Etzebeth), Bongi (Mbonambi) Steven Kitshoff … That’s something we as a team are grateful for. If Siya is not fit, we are not worried at all about who we select. We have got players who can do that job.”
Stick went on to explain that the Bok squad is almost back to full strength as they prepare to take on the Lions in the first Test.
“Some of them have been calling over the past couple of days, saying how excited they are and how much they’re looking forward to joining the team, which shows that they are already in a good space. So, when it comes to us being worried, honestly, I am not worried at all. Even if one or two of those players are not cleared to play.
“That is the class that we have in the squad. If they are cleared to play, that will be great, we get to select the best of the best.
“I don’t have a doubt that anyone
in our squad has what it takes to win us the series. We will respect whatever decision is taken after today and just focus on the game.
“For now, we are in a good space where we’ve got almost everyone back in Cape Town, even the guys who were in Joburg for the last 10 days. I think the last group will arrive today. We’re in a good space.
“I have to be honest and say that with everything that has happened over the past two weeks, it has almost happened at the right time. If you look at the squad now, we have almost 100% going into our camp now, we are in a good position.”