Springboks sweat over captain Kolisi after positive virus test

21 July 2021 | Sports

Nampa/AFP

Rugby World Cup winners South Africa are worried about the availability of captain Siya Kolisi, just 48 hours before naming their team for Saturday's first Test against the British and Irish Lions.

Springbok assistant coach Mzwandile Stick told an online news conference on Monday that Kolisi and other members of the squad who tested positive for Covid-19 would need to be assessed by a medical specialist before being cleared to play.

"By tonight (Monday) we will know who can play," Stick said.

Flanker Kolisi, hooker Bongi Mbonambi, prop Frans Malherbe, flyhalf Handre Pollard, winger Makazole Mapimpi and utility back Francois Steyn were placed in isolation after testing positive for Covid-19.

Plenty to pick from

Stick said there was a strong leadership group in the Springbok camp from which to select a captain if Kolisi, who lifted the Webb Ellis trophy in 2019, could not play.

Pollard, who kicked 22 points in the World Cup final triumph over England in Japan, is the vice-captain.

As one of the candidates to take over the captaincy if Kolisi cannot play, he said he is ready to return to action after a period in isolation as a close contact of Covid-infected players.

"Emotionally, physically, we are all ready," said the 27-year-old Montpellier playmaker.

South Africa and the Lions will play a three-Test series, which starts in Cape Town on 24 July and continues in Johannesburg on 31 July and 7 August.

The Springboks have won eight of the previous 13 series, the Lions four and one was drawn.

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