CAPE TOWN – Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus says they might make a bold call and go with a “young gun” to lead the team should their more experienced captaincy options not be fit and ready to face Wales and England in June.
Speaking at the Cape Town International Airport on Wednesday, the Bok boss mentioned Warren Whiteley, Eben Etzebeth, Siya Kolisi, Francois Louw, Duane Vermeulen and Adriaan Strauss as candidates for the leadership role.
But with Whiteley and Etzebeth injured and in doubt for the first matches of the international season, Erasmus said that they might widen the net and look at suitable “22- or 23-year-olds” to wear the captaincy armband.
That “young gun” could very well be Bulls pivot Handré Pollard – who’s captained the Bulls and the Junior Boks previously, but who’s also played very little Test rugby in the last two years.
“With Warren out and Eben not playing, and even guys that were previously in leadership positions like Francois Louw, Duane Vermeulen, Adriaan Strauss – if he comes back into the mix – and Siya Kolisi… I think he’s finding his feet now, I thought last week he was especially awesome at the attacking breakdown, (will be considered).
“So, we’re weighing up a few options, luckily there are four or five options we can look at. Even if none of those guys are ready, we might go with a young gun and a guy who’s fit and has played all the games, and someone who’s mature enough to handle it.
“We might go for a 22- or 23-year old who’s played regularly and is fit and available. We can’t just sit and wait and hope that the senior guys are ready.”
Lions skipper Whiteley was selected to lead the Boks under Allister Coetzee last year, but a groin injury cut his time with the captaincy armband short, and Eben Etzebeth took over in the third Test against France in Whiteley’s absence, while Kolisi was named vice-captain.
Erasmus is also confident that they still have enough time to assess their captaincy options ahead of the Test series.
“There are a few guys that are injured now that we’re considering. I think the group will only be announced in the week of the 26th (May). So we have some time, also to see where Warren’s going. He’ll be a strong contender as well.
“But you can’t go into a Test match with a player who’s only played 40 or 50 minutes.
“We might have to make a bold call there if everybody isn’t firing and match fit.”