Springbok captain Siya Kolisi has been medically cleared to lead the team in the first Test against the British and Irish Lions at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday.
After testing positive for Covid-19 in the build-up to the SA ‘A’ match against the Lions last week, Kolisi had to pass certain medical tests to prove he is ready to take the field.
After passing the tests, coach Jacques Nienaber says of having his captain available: “It’s very important [that he’s back], he’s been a player that we worked with for quite some time.
“He knows our structures, he knows what we’re trying to do from an on-field rugby perspective and obviously he’s been our captain.
“He will bring some calmness.”
The big surprise in team selection came in the front row, where props Ox Nche and Trevor Nyakane cracked the nod ahead of Stormers duo Steven Kitshoff and Frans Malherbe.
But Nienaber says he has a plan and explains: “With the quality of front rows we have available, when we have discussion with our front rowers we almost see them as a pairing.
“Is it more important to start and sing the anthem or be there when the final whistle goes?
“They know we work in tandem and they’ve got a specific role they have to play.... “The players understand it like that and bought into that.”
The Boks also trimmed their squad to 37 yesterday, releasing Yaw Penxe, Rosko Specman, Wandisile Simelane, Sanele Nohamba, Dan du Preez, Jean-Luc du Preez, Coenie Oosthuizen, Lizo Gqoboka, Scarra Ntubeni and Fez Mbatha.
South Africa: 15 Willie Le Roux, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handre 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 Nche. 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.