PRETORIA – Morné du Plessis, Corné Krige and John Smit have thrown their weight behind growing calls for Siya Kolisi to remain Springbok captain for the upcoming Rugby Championship and World Cup.
Kolisi, who became the first black African Bok captain against England in June, has not yet been confirmed as the team’s leader ahead of the southern-hemisphere tournament.
And with last year’s captain Warren Whiteley fit and playing, coach Rassie Erasmus finds himself in a rather precarious situation of having to choose between the two.
Whiteley led the Springboks for two Tests in the 2017 series whitewash against France before injury struck and saw him miss out on the third Test in Johannesburg and the rest of the year.
While Whiteley’s successor was Eben Etzebeth, an injury to the Stormers lock led to Erasmus making the logical call that should have been made by his predecessor, Allister Coetzee, to elevate Kolisi to the captaincy this year.
Du Plessis, who captained the Boks in the early 80s and was manager of the 1995 World Cup-winning team, says keeping Kolisi as captain will give the team the continuity and consistency that they will need in the Rugby Championship.
“I would say that consistency is very important. The sevens show consistency, and we’ve got to start showing consistency in 15s as well,” Du Plessis said.
“I don’t need to tell Rassie what to do, but he has picked a captain. Warren... life is tough, he was injured and another guy comes, it’s the right time, moment and place.
“Who knows if things change in the future, but there must be consistency now. Erasmus has put his marker down and he must go with it.
“Warren’s time will come and he’s a great man. He’s chance, time will come and he’s got to be there and get back into the team, he’s got to play.
“The Springbok captain is Siya Kolisi, and that’s it.”
Krige, who captained the Springboks at the 2003 World Cup, is adamant that Kolisi should be the man leading the team to Japan next year.
And that the likes of Whiteley and Duane Vermeulen must be an integral part of the leadership group.
“He is the man for the job. Yes, there are other good leaders coming in, Warren Whiteley is coming back and Duane Vermeulen is a good leader.
“There are a whole lot of good leaders, and that is what you want. You want a leadership team of experienced players who’ve been there and done that, and won’t capitulate under pressure, and that’s the crux of the matter.
“I would love to see him (Kolisi) continue, for sure.”
Smit, who led the Boks to their second world title in 2007, cited the need for Erasmus to grow the leadership group, with the likes of flyhalf Handré Pollard and others also being given the opportunity to lead the side heading to the World Cup.
“I’m a massive fan of Siya. He has done incredibly well in a short period of time,” Smit said.
“The fundamental thing about Siya is that he is a nice human being, and he’s already made a difference to South Africa even before he was made captain.
“The same can be said about Warren, he is a fantastic bloke and he was a great captain in the time that he had.
Bok captain Siya Kolisi, @Doogz @EbenEtzebeth and @notshe8 with pupils from Parklands College in CT, where the Boks teamed up with the school, @MTNza and @SpringbokAtlas in a drive to deliver blankets to the nearby impoverished communities. #Mandela100 #MandelaDay pic.twitter.com/xDvR7h0ACe
“Hopefully there is one or two others who can do so in the next 18 months, so that Rassie has three or four captains to take and the leadership group is strong.
“The nice thing about Siya and Warren is that they are cut from the same cloth from a character point of view. Neither of them are going to be fighting for the position – they will be making sure that the interest of the team is ahead of their own.
“We are on the right track from a leadership point of view, we can’t go wrong – especially if those are the two guys we’ve got in the forefront.
“But I would love to see one or two others put up their hands like a Handré Pollard, or whoever else has that leadership ability to both lead and support leaders.
“We had four or five of those in 2007, and it worked really well for us.”