When Rassie Erasmus announces his first Springbok squad on Saturday evening, there’s just one item he needs to tick off: make Siya Kolisi his captain.
It’s no use trying to be diplomatic when you’re the national team coach nowadays.
You simply have to play the political game.
And Erasmus can save himself a lot of headaches by installing the Stormers captain as Warren Whiteley’s (and I suppose Eben Etzebeth) replacement.
It will undoubtedly remove a sizeable chunk of the pressure off him in terms of South African rugby’s transformation drive, which is complicated by the fact that the franchises aren’t exactly giving him a conveyor belt of black players to choose from.
But with Kolisi there’s far more to his credentials as a captain than a mere improvement in representation.
Take a look around the country.
Who else is there?
Sharks captain and lock Ruan Botha is a good player but he can’t be guaranteed a starting spot, even with Etzebeth and Lood de Jager being injured.
Franco Mostert has done a job for the Lions and yet there’s still the suspicion that the side lacks a focused leader to keep a team that generally relies on instinct intact.
Erasmus is apparently really keen on Handre Pollard.
He undoubtedly likes responsibility but I’m not sure if he should be burdened with the national captaincy.
The Springboks need him more to become a commanding pivot at international level than his leadership.
So, one is left with Kolisi.
And “left” is a pretty poor word in his case anyway.
2017 did a lot for the versatile loose forward.
It was the year in which doubts over his suitability as an international player evaporated.
Kolisi is more than good enough for this level, especially if we can lose this obsessive misconception that he’s somehow a breakdown specialist.
He’s a ball-carrier – a dynamic one at times – and a hard tackler.
Don’t shackle him to some sort of fetcher role.
That’s not who Kolisi is.
He wears his heart on his sleeve and is committed to his country.
And even if his form has been off-colour for the Stormers to date, I can’t help but think it’s because some inferior guidance in general at the franchise.
Sometimes a player just needs the boost of faith from the national coach to make them soar.
So, just get on with it, Rassie.