The emblematic third line of the Springboks, Siya Kolisi, operated at the end of April on a knee, is in time for the World Cup next autumn in France and there is no question of withdrawing his captaincy, announced Thursday the leaders of the South African XV.
Kolisi, 31, 75 caps, was injured on April 24 in a game between his Sharks team and Munster in Durban. Victim of a partial rupture of the anterior cruciate ligament, also affected in the meniscus, he was operated on four days later and started a race against time for the World Cup (September 8 - October 28).
“The basic argument is that he is our captain. We will not replace him in his role as captain, we will have substitute captains, South African director of rugby Rassie Erasmus told a press conference in Cape Town on Thursday. We hope, given his passing time (in his recovery) that he can play one of these matches.
The World Cup begins on September 8, the final is set for October 28. The first match of the reigning world champions is scheduled for September 10 against Scotland in Marseille. The clash in Group B against Ireland will take place on September 23 at the Stade de France.
“Even if he is not 100% ready for the game against Scotland, there will be time until the World Cup final,” argued Erasmus.
At his side, Jacques Nienaber, the coach of the Boks, recalled that in 2019, Kolisi, at the time already injured, had practically not played in the preparation matches for the World Cup organized in Japan, not returning only once against Argentina.
"We'll give him as much time as possible," Nienaber said. "The past has shown that he does not need to participate in the preparation matches before a World Cup."
A first rally was organized last week in Durban with a reduced group. Kolisi was one of them, an illustration of his influence on the group. From Sunday, a larger group will meet again in Durban, for a three-day course.
The stricto sensu preparation will take place from June 12 to 30. The Boks will play the Rugby Championship the following month, the tournament of the major nations of the southern hemisphere in a reduced format this year, with the reception of Australia and Argentina and a trip to New Zealand.
Three warm-up matches are scheduled for August against Argentina, Wales and New Zealand to polish their title defence.
South Africa are in Group B with, in addition to Scotland, Ireland. If the world champions come out of the group stage, they will then meet in the quarter-finals a nation from group A, that of France and New Zealand.