Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus is set to spread his net wider to find a stand-in skipper for regular captain Siya Kolisi for the first two Tests of the Rugby Championship.
Erasmus said on Monday in Pretoria that Kolisi’s knee injury will probably see him miss the opener against Australia at Ellis Park on July 20 and the Test against the All Blacks in Wellington a week later.
On Wednesday, SA Rugby subsequently stated that the loose forward will prove his fitness in the upcoming Currie Cup.
These are the candidates to take over the interim captaincy:
The robust lock is a former captain in the Green-and-Gold having lead the side in 10 Tests in 2017 following an injury to first-choice leader Warren Whiteley. He had the ignominy of presiding over the record 57-0 embarrassment at the hands of the All Blacks, but always led from the front.
The veteran No 8 is a presence in any team and while he hasn’t ever been appointed a permanent captain during his career, the 32-year-old did a decent job deputising for the Bulls occasionally in Super Rugby this season. Given the short-term focus of the role, Vermeulen would probably be an ideal candidate.
No-one would’ve realistically entertained this thought at the start of the year, but the world-class hooker has raised his leadership profile after Lions coach Swys de Bruin installed him as the unlucky Whiteley’s deputy in Super Rugby. Seemed to draw a lot from the experience around him, which would make him an interesting candidate should Erasmus decide on a more all-for-one, one-for-all approach.
A man who’s always relished extra responsibility, Pollard showed as stand-in Bulls captain that he can combine a leadership role with consistent individual performances. But will Erasmus feel comfortable with a similar arrangement at international level?
PIETER-STEPH DU TOIT
The versatile forward skippered the Boks in last year’s one-off Test against Wales in Washington and is now regarded as a senior player in the national camp. The fact that he’ll still be alternated between blindside flank and lock means he could be a strong candidate as he won’t necessarily be a victim of Erasmus’ expected rotation policy.
Turned out to be a calm leader in the latter stages of the Stormers’ Super Rugby season, though a similar role in the national setup seems unlikely.