South African captain Siya Kolisi has been deemed fit to lead his country in Saturday’s first test against the British and Irish Lions.
The flanker was one of 14 Springboks to test positive for the coronavirus, forcing him to self-isolate in Johannesburg for 10 days. Winger Makazole Mapimpi and mainstay Ox Nche were also selected to start for the world champions in Cape Town this weekend, after undergoing a medical due to their similar position.
Opener Handré Pollard, another of the Springboks who tested positive, will win his 50th selection. The 23-man squad selected by Springboks coach Jacques Nienaber includes 21 players who took part in the country’s triumphant 2019 World Cup campaign.
Nienaber stayed with the same group of attackers that started the 40-9 success against Georgia on July 2, with scrum-half Faf De Klerk, centers Damian De Allende and Lukhanyo Am and wingers Mapimpi and Cheslin Kolbe as the five men called back.
“Some of the players had no symptoms of Covid-19 at all, they were managed according to their individual needs, and they really impressed me with their intensity and enthusiasm in training,” said the coach Jacques Nienaber.
“The well-being of our players is of paramount importance, so we worked closely with the medical team to determine what would be the best course of action for each player during the three-test series.”
Loosehead Nche will fall back alongside hooker Bongi Mbonambi and tight header Trevor Nyakane, past locks Eben Etzebeth and Franco Mostert, with blind Kolisi and open Pieter-Steph du Toit on either side of Kwagga Smith in the row back. Sale n ° 9 De Klerk resumes his partnership with vice-captain Pollard, full-back Willie Le Roux retaining his starting position, while De Allende, Am, Mapimpi and Kolbe each return.
The Springboks’ seasoned starting XV has 553 test picks between them, with another 225 picks among the substitutes. Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff, Frans Malherbe, Lood De Jager, Rynhardt Elstadt, Herschel Jantjies, Elton Jantjies and Damian Willemse make up the bench.
“The fact that most of the players have participated in the Rugby World Cup means that they know each other well on and off the pitch and as coaches we know what they have to offer after working out with most of them for several years, ”Nienaber said. .