Boks: Siya ‘on track’ for World Cup

Siya Kolisi is now in a race against time to prove his fitness in order to help South Africa defend the Webb Ellis Cup in less than four months’ time.

Rassie Erasmus and Jacques Nienaber have revealed that Siya Kolisi has been given “as much time as possible” to recover from knee surgery and lead the Springboks again.

The 31-year-old loose forward had an operation in April to repair a partial tear to his anterior cruciate ligaments (ACL) as well as injured meniscus on both sides of his knee.

As the Rugby Championship approaches, the South Africans find themselves facing a critical question regarding their captaincy options in the absence of Kolisi, but his participation at the global showpiece is arguably the more pressing concern.

The Boks will launch their World Cup defence on Sunday, 10 September, against Scotland in Marseille, after warm-up Tests against Argentina, Wales and New Zealand, and speaking in a media conference on Thursday, Erasmus and Nienaber addressed the availability and selection of Kolisi.

“In terms of where he has to be in terms of a recovery point of view, I think he is on track. There will be a couple of markers that on a specific day he needs to be there, and he needs to tick those boxes… But currently, he is on track in terms of his rehab,” Bok coach Nienaber told reporters.

“[A return to play date] will be determined medically and whether he is ticking his markers. If we go back in 2019, Siya didn’t participate in any matches of the Rugby Championship [and] he also was carrying an injury.

“Then we played him in an Argentina Test match off the bench, and his first start was against Japan, in Japan, for that warm-up game for the Rugby World Cup.

“If you look at that, I think Siya is a guy who has done it before and we will look at giving him as much time as possible, because history has shown us he is the type of guy who doesn’t need to play in Test matches before a World Cup, and then he comes and slot in and produce performances.”

SA’s director of rugby, Erasmus added: “We won’t replace him as captain, we’ll have stand-in captains because at this stage we’ll have three warm-ups. We are hoping, the way he is hitting his markers currently, that he will play in one of those matches.

“Even if he is not 100% ready for the Scotland Test match, it’s a long time until the final of the World Cup and being our captain, having been there and done that … he’s the kind of guy who can do it like he did at the last World Cup.

“So we are fairly confident [he’ll go to the World Cup].”

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