South Africa 29.5.2018 06:00 am

Siya is the right man for the job – Rassie

New Springbok rugby coach, Rassie Erasmus, right, and new Springbok captain, Siya Kolisi, sit together during a team photograph prior to their first training session in Johannesburg, South Africa, 28 May 2018.   The 26-year-old Kolisi will become Springbok captain No 61, and will also become the first black South African to lead the Boks in a Test match. Picture: EPA

New Springbok rugby coach, Rassie Erasmus, right, and new Springbok captain, Siya Kolisi, sit together during a team photograph prior to their first training session in Johannesburg, South Africa, 28 May 2018. The 26-year-old Kolisi will become Springbok captain No 61, and will also become the first black South African to lead the Boks in a Test match. Picture: EPA

Siya Kolisi’s appointment as Springbok captain was not politically motivated, Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus stresses, ‘as I know his qualities and what he can do’.

The Stormers flanker is set to became the first black Springbok Test captain after he was named to lead the Boks in their three upcoming home Tests against England, while lock Pieter-Steph du Toit will skipper a weakened side in the season-opening one-off Test against Wales in Washington DC this weekend.

Hooker Chiliboy Ralepelle made history in 2006 by becoming the first black national men’s captain, but he only led the side in a tour match against a World XV and never in a Test.

“I coached Siya since he was 18 when I got him from the Eastern Cape to join the Stormers. I coached him right through his academy years until he started playing for the Stormers,” said Erasmus yesterday.

“I know what he can do. I know his qualities. He has grown as a man and as a captain.

“In terms of his captaincy I know it’s a big honour for him and I’ve known him for a lot of years and I’ve seen him going through bad times and good times, and I know what kind of person he is.

“We’ve had a lot of contact with him, so I’m not unhappy with his playing level,” said Erasmus in relation to the fact that Kolisi hasn’t been able to maintain his usual high standards of late.

With both last year’s two national captains, Warren Whiteley and Eben Etzebeth, ruled out by injuries, Erasmus said the appointment of Kolisi made perfect sense. The loose forward has captained the Stormers since 2017, and is the most internationally experienced current local Super Rugby captain in the Bok squad.

“It’s only for the June Test matches with guys like Warren and Eben still out injured, so it was common sense for me. What he can bring to the party I’m 100% happy with and I have no doubt over the decision at all.”

The 26-year-old Siyamthanda Kolisi was born on June 16, 1991, in Zwide township near Port Elizabeth and was educated at Grey High School.

Since making his Test debut at the age of 22 against Scotland in June 2013, he has played 28 Tests, scoring four tries.

Apart from Kolisi, Erasmus also assured Bok fans the percentage of players of colour in his first squad – 19 out of 43 – isn’t a “fabrication”.

“I wouldn’t have taken up the position if I was going to fabricate positions like that. I’m really happy that it’s a very competitive squad,” said Erasmus, who took over from Allister Coetzee.

“I think before I was appointed it was always part of my understanding where we were heading and from the beginning I bought into that. And I understand that and want to be part of that and want to fix that – all the things we did wrong in the past. I really believe the players we have here deserve to be there.”

rudolphj@citizen.co.za

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