AUDIO: Rassie and his 'obvious' Bok captain
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus is spoilt for choice when it comes to suitable captaincy candidates for the Rugby Championship.
With Siya Kolisi ruled out of the first two Test of the tournament, with a knee injury, the Springboks could have more than one stand-in skipper during his absence.
Kolisi will miss the Springboks’ opener against Australia at Ellis Park on July 20 and the massive encounter against the All Blacks in Wellington a week later.
Hesitant to reveal Kolisi’s deputy, Erasmus explained that there are a few experienced candidates that pop up when searching for a team leader.
However, the most obvious option is No.8 Duane Vermeulen.
The Bulls veteran often helped and guided Kolisi with captaincy duties during the Springboks’ home series against England and the end-of-year tour in Europe last year.
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While other candidates on his list include hooker Malcolm Marx, flyhalf Handre Pollard, lock Eben Etzebeth, loose forward Pieter-Steph du Toit, as well as props Beast Mtawarira and Steven Kitshoff.
Etzebeth captained the team for 10 Tests in 2017, while Du Toit was handed the responsibility for the one-off Test against Wales last June.
Unfortunately for Erasmus, Etzebeth and Du Toit are recovering from injuries and might also miss the encounter against Australia.
Nonetheless, Erasmus is confident that the Boks do not have any captaincy concerns – unlike in previous years.
“There are a few role players in contention for captaincy,” the coach told reporters at the team hotel in Pretoria on Wednesday.
“If you just think Eben Etzebeth if he gets cleared he will probably need game time in the first game because he hasn’t played for a while he will come into contention for the first game.
“Then there is a guy like Pieter-Steph du Toit who needs to get some game time in the first game and he will be in contention.
“Duane [Vermeulen] will be one of the obvious choices.
“Beast [Mtawarira] needs some game time he hasn’t played for a while.
“And players like Kitshoff who is [the Stormers] captain and Malcolm Marx, [the Lions] captain is also in contention.
“It all depends on how this weekend goes, on Friday after Siya’s scan and after we see what Eben’s x-rays look like after the brace comes off.
“We will make that call on Monday.
“The positive is that there are some good options compared to last year but it will probably come out of those guys for the first two Test-matches,”
By Josh Isaacson