Siya Kolisi to lead Boks against British and Irish Lions

There were concerns about the availability of captain Siya Kolisi, Ox Nche and Makazole Mapimpi, with the trio having to undergo tests on Monday after contracting COVID-19 earlier this month.

Springboks captain Siya Kolisi. Picture: @Springboks/Twitter.

JOHANNESBURG - Springbok head coach Jacques Nienaber on Tuesday named the squad to take on the British and Irish Lions in the first test on Saturday.

There were concerns about the availability of captain Siya Kolisi, Ox Nche and Makazole Mapimpi, with the trio having to undergo tests on Monday after contracting COVID-19 earlier this month.

However, all three players passed the tests and were included in the starting XV for the clash at the Cape Town Stadium.

Nienaber said having Kolisi in the starting line up was a massive boost to the side.

“He’s our captain and a leader and someone who knows the way that we want to play”, he said.

Handré Pollard will earn his 50th cap as he starts at flyhalf with Faf de Klerk completing the half back pairing.

All in all, 21 players in the match day 23 featured in the Springboks’ triumphant campaign in Japan in 2019.

“We have played three matches in the last few weeks with the Springboks facing Georgia and South Africa ‘A’ lining up against the British & Irish Lions and the Vodacom Bulls, and the first two matches in particular allowed us to settle a few player combinations that haven’t played since the Rugby World Cup final,” said Nienaber.

“We planned our team selections carefully, which is why it was important for us to play a third match after the second Test against Georgia was cancelled, and we know what the players we selected can do. The fact that most of the players participated in the Rugby World Cup means they know one another well on and off the field, and as coaches, we know what they have to offer after having worked with most of them for several years”, he added.

Nienaber said he expected a battle against the British and Irish forwards.

“The forward battle is going to be as tough as it gets, so it’s important that we pitch up physically and ensure that we make our presence felt in the set pieces and at the contact points. This, combined with their hard-running backs, will test our defensive system, but we have been looking forward to these matches since the Rugby World Cup concluded and we have done our homework, so it is a case of doing everything at 100% and sticking to our structures”, he added.

Full squad:
15 – Willie le Roux
14 – Cheslin Kolbe
13 – Lukhanyo Am
12 – Damian de Allende
11 – Makazole Mapimpi
10 – Handré Pollard
9 – Faf de Klerk
8 – Kwagga Smith
7 – Pieter-Steph du Toit
6 – Siya Kolisi (captain)
5 – Franco Mostert
4 – Eben Etzebeth
3 – Trevor Nyakane
2 – Bongi Mbonambi
1 – Ox Nché

Replacements:
16 – Malcolm Marx
17 – Steven Kitshoff
18 – Frans Malherbe
19 – Lood de Jager
20 – Rynhardt Elstadt
21 – Herschel Jantjies
22 – Elton Jantjies
23 – Damian Willemse

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