Siya Kolisi as Springbok captain ‘a unique situation’, says Rassie Erasmus

Siya Kolisi. Photo: BackpagePix

Siya Kolisi. Photo: BackpagePix

Published Mar 13, 2024


SHOULD Siya Kolisi continue as Springbok captain?

That is the difficult question coach Rassie Erasmus is pondering at the moment – and he doesn’t have an answer yet.

Kolisi is an icon in world rugby after leading the Boks to back-to-back Rugby World Cup titles in 2019 and 2023. But following last year’s triumph in France, Kolisi joined Racing 92 in Paris, and will be playing his club rugby in Europe for the next three years.

The 32-year-old has earned 83 Test caps and is the undoubted leader of the South African team.

Although he is not a big talker, Kolisi is not shy to ask for help from his teammates in the heat of battle, and his humility on and off the pitch – as well as his extraordinary journey from Zwide township in the Eastern Cape to conquering the rugby world – has made him a colossal figure.

But now that he is playing club rugby in France, can he still fulfil that role properly?

Erasmus, speaking at a press conference in Cape Town yesterday – where he addressed the media following last week’s alignment camp and introduced new assistant coaches Tony Brown and Jerry Flannery – is not quite sure at the moment.

He still has a few months to make a final decision, with the first Test of the year against Wales in late June in London, which will be followed by the massive July two-Test series against Ireland in Pretoria and Durban.

“There are a lot of players who signed overseas with clauses in their contracts that say they will stop playing international rugby and will just play for their club,” Erasmus said.

“Now Siya did not sign a clause like that, and that is the first thing that tells you he wants to play for South Africa.

“I actually think he has played some of his best rugby this year, and he looks really relaxed. We’ve got a lot of guys all over the world like that – Kitsie (Steven Kitshoff) at Ulster.

“But Siya’s specific one, being our captain ... I always love to have our captain locally based here. It would be great – just a call and the guy hops on a flight and we can have a weekend together to quickly plan, do things and work out stuff.

“This is a unique situation. He will be considered, and I think he will play some Test matches – because he definitely wants to and is playing well enough ...

“What are we going to do about the captaincy?,” Erasmus continued.

“If we get the feeling that it is doable, and the players know him so well – because he’s worked eight years with them now – maybe there’s place for that. But I first have to suss it out, feel it out and see if it works or not.

“We must still work out how it will work if he had to be captain from that side, and it also depends on our leadership and so on ... we definitely want to make the right decision that is the best for the Springbok team.”

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