Rassie Erasmus’ three-man shortlist to fill Siya Kolisi’s Springboks captaincy void

Jared Wright
Springboks hooker Bongi Mbonambi and head coach Rassie Erasmus.

Springboks hooker Bongi Mbonambi and head coach Rassie Erasmus.

Springboks head coach Rassie Erasmus has three players on his shortlist to captain South Africa against Wales in the one-off Test match at Twickenham Stadium.

The fixture on June 22 falls outside of World Rugby’s official international window, meaning players plying their trade for Top 14 and Premiership clubs will not be available to Erasmus.

South Africa will therefore be without double World Cup-winning captain Siya Kolisi – whose future as the side’s skipper is also in doubt.

Leicester Tigers fly-half Handre Pollard, who captained the Springboks against Wales in 2022, is also unavailable for the Test match which has led Erasmus to other options.

Springboks captaincy is not a headache

According to a report by Afrikaans newspaper Rapport, Erasmus will choose between Sharks forwards Eben Etzebeth and Bongi Mbonambi and Japan-based flanker Pieter-Steph du Toit.

The trio have all captained the Springboks in the past and could do so again in the one-off Test against Wales, with Kolisi possibly leading the side again in the two matches against Ireland back in South Africa.

Etzebeth, Mbonambi and Du Toit are all set to be available to the Springboks for the clash as the Sharks are out of the running for the URC play-offs while the Japan-based players will link up with the squad early.

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“The captaincy is not this massive problem,” Erasmus told media at North-West University on Thursday after picking up his honorary doctorate.

“We really have got a lot of leaders and as I always say at the previous press conference as well, if a guy like Siya gets released by his club at the right times and we have good enough access to him almost the same as the South African guys, then there is no need to change captaincy.

“At this stage, their coach at Racing 92 (Stuart Lancaster), is really working with us really well. So, at this stage, it doesn’t really look like we have to make a change there.

“But I mean, let’s see when their season ends and our season ends and players become available, but it’s not a headache for us.”

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Will Kolisi return to South Africa?

The report adds that several top SA Rugby administrators believe that it would be better for the Springboks if Kolisi played in South Africa due to his unifying efforts and his value off the pitch.

However, a top source in SA Rugby told the newspaper that the union “cannot afford” to buy Kolisi out of his contract at Racing 92.

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