The Rugby World Cup winners South Africa are nervous 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. The Springbok’s 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.
Kolisi, who plays flank, hooker Bongi Mbonambi, prop Frans Malherbe, fly-half Handre Pollard, winger Makazole Mapimpi and utility back Francois Steyn were all placed in isolation after testing positive for COVID-19.
Stick stated that 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 currently the vice-captain.
As one of the candidates to take over the captaincy if Kolisi cannot play, Pollard said that 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 be playing a three-Test series, which starts in Cape Town on July 24 and continues in Johannesburg on July 31 and August 7.
The Springboks have won eight of the previous 13 series, the Lions four, and one was drawn.