One of Springbok rugby’s biggest modern-day heroes, Cheslin Kolbe, will leave Australia next week having spent more than a month in the country without playing a match.
The gutsy winger, who helped the Boks win the World Cup in 2019 and the series against the British and Irish Lions in August, will return to South Africa having missed the four Rugby Championship Tests against Australia and New Zealand.
While it was hoped Kolbe, who will probably next turn out for his new French club, Toulon, before the Boks’ end-of-year tour, would be fit for this weekend’s final Rugby Championship Test against the All Blacks in the Gold Coast, the 27-year-old was unable to show he is ready for Test rugby.
Kolbe, who hurt his leg in a training session not long after the Boks arrived in Australia in early September, will again watch the action from the sidelines this week, with Sbu Nkosi starting in the No 14 jersey – as he’s done for the last three Tests.
On Tuesday, Bok boss Jacques Nienaber explained what had gone wrong with Kolbe’s return from injury.
“Cheslin would have started the match if he made a full recovery from the leg injury which has kept him out since the beginning of our Australian tour, but unfortunately his injury flared up during the latter stages of Tuesday’s field session, so we could not select him,” explained Nienaber.
The injury happened when the Boks returned to training after a quarantine period after they arrived in Australia earlier this month.
“It was always going to be four to six weeks for him,” said Nienaber. “He went through the rehab and was introduced to some contact training before more contact training and exposure this week.
“We needed to see if he was comfortable and he needed to be comfortable. Unfortunately he wasn’t ready to play.”
Nienaber said he and the Boks fully backed Nkosi. “We have full confidence in Sbu. He has been excellent for us ever since I’ve been involved with the Boks, since 2018.”