Le Cap (AFP)
Siya Kolisi will lead the South African Springboks in the first test against the British and Irish Lions in Cape Town on Saturday after recovering from Covid-19.
The starting squad announced by coach Jacques Nienaber on Tuesday includes 11 of the Springboks who started the 32-12 World Cup final victory over England in Japan in November 2019.
Kolisi, winger Makazole Mapimpi and hooker Bongi Mbonambi all passed medical tests before being allowed to play in what is expected to be a physically demanding start to the three-test series.
Nienaber said being able to select Kolisi was “very important”.
“He’s a player we’ve been working with for some time. He knows our structures, he knows what we’re trying to do and obviously he’s been our captain.
“He brings a little calm to our team, so we are very happy to see him again. “
Mbonambi said he and the other infected players underwent extensive medical tests on Sunday and Monday and were ready to “step up” and play their full role.
All the full-backs who made the World Cup final line up on Saturday, but there are four changes among the forwards.
Ox Nche and Trevor Nyakane will be the starting pillars in place of Tendai Mtawarira, who has retired, and Frans Malherbe, who is on the bench.
Franco Mostert, substitute in the final, will start on goal in front of Lood de Jager, who is one of the substitutes cured of the Covid.
– Difficult preparations –
Kwagga Smith will play at No. 8 in place of injured Duane Vermeulen.
The same squad took on Georgia in what turned out to be a one-time test on July 2 before Covid swept both sides.
Nine of the South African team A which beat the Lions 17-13 last Wednesday are on the testing side.
Nienaber said Covid made preparations difficult, especially in the cases of Mapimpi and De Jager, who had not taken part in any warm-up matches.
He added that the starting squad has over 500 test selections. “We have guys who have been there and understand what pressure is. “
Nienaber said there was “no strategic thinking” in advancing the team’s announcement one day from the original schedule.
“The players already knew that, so they might as well make it public. “
He said his team should adjust against the Lions.
“Their workforce is very versatile. They can confront us with multiple strategies. Our team will have to find solutions.
The Lions will announce their squad on Thursday.
South Africa (15-1)
Willie le Roux; Cheslin Kolbe, Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Makazole Mapimpi; Handre Pollard, Faf de Klerk; Kwagga Smith, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Siya Kolisi (capitaine); Franco Mostert, Eben Etzebeth; Trevor Nyakane, Bongi Mbonambi, Ox Nche
Substitutions: Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff, Frans Malherbe, Lood de Jager, Rynhardt Elstadt, Herschel Jantjies, Elton Jantjies, Damian Willemse
Coach: Jacques Nienaber (RSA)
© 2021 AFP