The Springboks will in all certainty have a new captain when the international season kicks off next month.
According to Sport24, the Lions on Wednesday confirmed that Warren Whiteley is still three weeks away from being ready to take the field again.
That effectively rules him out for the Tests against Wales and England.
Whiteley’s stand-in last season, Eben Etzebeth, also has yet to return to the playing field following knee and arm injuries sustained on 2017’s end-of-year tour to Europe.
But the question is: who will new national coach Rassie Erasmus entrust with this responsibility?
We look at the two leading candidates … and one long shot.
SIYA KOLISI (STORMERS)
By all accounts the Stormers skipper would be the popular choice.
The 26-year-old is a man who wears his heart on his sleeve and is wholly committed to his country’s cause.
Also, the sheer symbolism of a black Springbok captain can’t be ignored – it will be huge.
Yet the key consideration here is his form in 2017, where he was one of the standout players for the Boks in a mediocre season.
It means there aren’t many reservations left over his suitability as an international player.
He’s truly established now.
However, his form has been noticeably affected by his captaincy role at the Stormers in 2018.
It hasn’t been bad but it hasn’t been great either.
Will that count against him?
HANDRE POLLARD (BULLS)
Pollard’s career has been characterised by him shouldering a lot of responsibility and enjoying it.
As 18-year-old, he coolly booted the Junior Springboks tot 2012’s World Championship title and was subsequently installed as captain in his final year in 2014.
It wasn’t long before he made his Springbok debut that same year and enhanced his reputation by performing well in the pressure cooker environment of the 2015 World Cup as Heyneke Meyer’s first-choice No 10.
His first proper captaincy gig – as stand-in for the Bulls last year – didn’t go particularly well but that could also be explained by the fact that he juggled that with getting back to form after an injury layoff of over a year.
Pollard has once again done the odd ambulance job for his franchise this season though it’s notable that he’s been in a cracking form when he’s just been tasked with being a playmaker.
Shouldn’t he first become a dominating force in the No 10 jersey at international level before wearing a captain’s armband?
DUANE VERMEULEN (OVERSEAS)
From the outset it must be stated that Erasmus is apparently very reluctant to install a candidate that plays his rugby overseas.
However, the relationship the versatile, bruising 31-year-old has built over the years with the Bok mentor can’t be denied.
It was Erasmus that played a pivotal part in Vermeulen becoming an established player at senior level.
He showed his worth on last year’s European tour in bringing calmness to a jittery Bok pack and would certainly do a very good job in the short-term.
Yet what happens when Whiteley returns?
Does Erasmus want to stifle the development of a Sikhumbuzo Notshe or a Dan du Preez at No 8?
This is why Vermeulen is a long shot.