Siya Kolisi is playing his ‘best rugby’ but Rassie Erasmus ‘not sure about’ Springboks captaincy

Jared Wright
Springboks head coach Rassie Erasmus and captain Siya Kolisi.

Springboks head coach Rassie Erasmus and captain Siya Kolisi.

Head coach Rassie Erasmus says he is mulling over the “unique situation” around the Springboks captaincy with double Rugby World Cup-winning captain Siya Kolisi.

Erasmus has hinted that there will be a changing of the guard as he returns for his second stint as head coach, with many players being phased out.

Siya Kolisi’s captaincy

However, he added that Kolisi is still performing at the top level, which is creating some uncertainty over the Bok captaincy going forward.

Erasmus is not restricted to selecting only players from South African teams but admits that he would prefer this captain to be based in the Republic and that, with Kolisi having joined Racing 92 after the World Cup in France, there is room for change.

It is reported that SA Rugby would also prefer a locally based captain, but the decision is ultimately with Erasmus, with the previous restriction falling away.

“Siya is playing some of his best rugby, but I prefer to have my captain locally based as that allows for more interaction,” Erasmus told reporters on Tuesday.

“This is a unique situation, and I think he (Kolisi) will play some Test matches; he certainly wants to, but we are not sure about the captaincy.”

Kolisi recently put a timeline on his potential retirement and his plans post-rugby. While he previously suggested that he would hang up his Test boots after the 2023 World Cup, he has had a change of heart and is eager to add to his 83 Test caps.

Springboks: Siya Kolisi puts a timeline on his retirement and what he wants to do next

Phasing out of older players

At 32, Kolisi is nearing the latter stages of his career much like many of his teammates from the final. Duane Vermeulen has retired from international rugby and the remaining starting forwards from the victory over New Zealand are in their 30s.

Handre Pollard, Cheslin Kolbe and Jesse Kriel have all celebrated their 30th birthday since the final, with Kurt-Lee Arendse (27) and Damian Willemse (25) being the youngest players from the starting XV.

Erasmus said that the coaching staff outlined a roadmap for each Springbok player when he was appointed as director of rugby six years ago, and for many players, their task now is to prepare the next generation of Springboks before making way.

“In 2018, we had a roadmap for the players, and we said, ‘Where will this guy be in 2019, 2023 and 2027?’ We know exactly which players can only last another year, and we have given them the task to help the youngsters before they leave,” he added.

“But it is a challenge to tell a player, ‘OK, you must stop now.’ We have guys in their 30s who believe they can win another World Cup.”

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Targetting three World Cups

With preparations beginning for the next World Cup cycle, Erasmus has already warned that he will be giving youngsters opportunities, which will result in defeats as he targets a three-peat.

“Building a squad means giving young guys an opportunity and making sure we always improve on depth,” he said.

“By doing that, you will lose a few test matches, but then we will have the answers when we get to the World Cup.

“I would rather win the World Cup than sit at an 85 per cent win rate in between.”

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