Springboks coach Rassie Erasmus has declared captain Siya Kolisi ready for the World Cup in Japan in September after he came through unscathed in the 24-18 win over Argentina at Loftus on Saturday.
Kolisi played 52 minutes in his successful return to Test rugby following a knee injury he suffered during Super Rugby while playing for the Stormers in May.
The Bok skipper showed no signs of discomfort.
“Siya‚ he was wonderful‚” said a beaming Erasmus. “We wanted to get him off after 30 minutes but after that time I asked how he was feeling and he said he was feeling great‚ but then again we also had Marcell Coetzee injured.
“At half-time I asked him if he wanted to get off and he said he wanted to play for 70 minutes, but I could see that he was struggling a little bit after 50 minutes and we took him off.”
Erasmus said there is still a lot of work that needs to be done to get Kolisi in peak physical condition for a big tournament like the World Cup and they are going to work on him during their camp in Bloemfontein this week.
“I guess the next thing is to condition him in terms of match fitness, and we are going to try and simulate that a lot‚” the Bok coach said.
“He is good to go for the World Cup. We are going to give him some game time in the warm-up game against Japan.
“Certain guys you just fast-track, like Siya. We really fast-tracked him a big way from 15 minutes of Currie Cup to a Test match against Argentina because we know what we have in him.
“He has been captain and it’s a special case.”
Erasmus also confirmed that exciting winger Sbu Nkosi has secured his plane ticket to the tournament after he scored a brace of tries that helped the Springboks to the morale-boosting victory.
“The other games are finished now and we only have the warm-up game against Japan, and Sbu will make the 31-man squad‚” he confirmed.
Looking back at the victory‚ Erasmus admitted they were not at their best but he was happy they had tried certain combinations.
“We rested 18 players‚ I know people don’t like manoeuvring with the Springboks in Test matches‚” he said. “If we had lost this game‚ I would be sitting here and you guys would be really getting into me for playing around with a team.
“But we have learnt so much from RG Snyman and Lood de Jager with the lineouts; the scrums were at stages good and we grinded the win out.
“I told the boys that this is going to be the biggest grind ever because if you look at the way Argentina played against New Zealand in 2016‚ they had a chance to beat them. They never go away.
“The talk for the whole week was that this game would be won and lost in the trenches. It was the way it turned out — we never expected an open and running game, but we were hoping that it went that way.
“It never went that way. It is nice to learn while you are winning; overall there was some good and bad stuff.”
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