Bok captaincy: Lining up Kolisi's replacements
OPINION: It seems like the Springboks’ management will soon have to start looking at some new captaincy options for this year’s World Cup.
Bok captain Siyamthanda Kolisi’s participation at the World Cup is in doubt after scans on a knee injury revealed the worst.
According to reports, the 31-year-old has suffered a partial tear to his anterior cruciate ligaments (ACL) as well as injured his meniscus on both sides of his knee.
The 2019 World Cup-winning skipper saw specialists on Monday, one of who has recommended surgery.
He is set to meet another on Tuesday.
Should he opt for surgery it would mean the skipper would be out for nine months and will not play again this year.
The alternative is to allow the injury to heal through rehabilitation, which will take four months – meaning it will be a case of touch-and-go for the World Cup.
Either way, it leaves the Springbok management with the big question: Who will captain the Boks should Kolisi be out of the picture?
One name that certainly comes to the forefront is flyhalf Handre Pollard.
The Leicester Tigers No.10 is the Springbok’s vice-captain and the obvious choice.
Pollard became the 64th Springbok captain when he led the side in the second Test against Wales in July.
The 29-year-old has a very different approach to captaincy compared to the regular skipper.
Pollard prefers to go about his leadership quietly, yet is still very effective.
He played a vital role in the Springboks’ 2019 success, topping the stats for the most point scored (69 points).
Lukhanyo Am is the other candidate.
The centre has led the Sharks in 2021 prior to the arrival of Kolisi at the Durban-based franchise.
His leadership is one of his great attributes.
Just like Pollard, the 29-year-old also goes quietly about his business and likes to keep a low profile.
However, that does not take away anything from his capabilities to lead.
He captained South Africa ‘A’ against the British and Irish Lions in 2021 and was very impressive.
Known for his fiercest scrummaging, Steven Kitshoff is another name that pops up in the Bok captain debate.
One can not deny, the 31-year-old prop is an incredible leader.
He captained the Stormers to a United Rugby Championship trophy and played a vital part in their journey to a second URC SA Shield.
He has a brilliant rugby brain.
However, with him being part of the ‘Bomb squad’ and not a guaranteed starter, the captain’s armband seems very unlikely.
Duane Vermeulen is another favourite to take over the Bok captaincy.
At 36 years old, the loose forward comes with loads of experience.
He was the man of the match during South Africa’s 32-12 win over England in the 2019 World Cup final in Japan.
His form at Ulster, a team he regularly captains, certainly makes a good case for his inclusion in the 33-man World Cup squad.
However, with him turning 37 in July and with Jasper Wiese’s outstanding form for Leicester Tigers, making the starting line-up for Vermeulen is not so straightforward as four years ago.
South Africa’s player of the year Eben Etzebeth could be another candidate.
The lock is already part of the Springbok leadership group and is a guaranteed starter.
He captained the Springboks against France at Ellis Park in 2017. South Africa were 35-12 victors.
But a captain’s role could hinder the enforcer’s physical approach.
The Springboks begin their World Cup defence against Scotland in Marseille on September 10 and also face Ireland, Romania and Tonga in Pool B.