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Cheslin Kolbe has returned to the Bok training group but will miss next week's Test against Wales in London. Here he is in action against France at Stade Velodrome in Marseille in November 2022. Picture: CLEMENT MAHOUDEAU/GALLO IMAGES
Cheslin Kolbe has returned to the Bok training group but will miss next week's Test against Wales in London. Here he is in action against France at Stade Velodrome in Marseille in November 2022. Picture: CLEMENT MAHOUDEAU/GALLO IMAGES

Cheslin Kolbe has made a brisk return to the Springbok set-up after being released from the squad earlier this week.

The double Rugby World Cup-winning wing has rejoined his teammates in Pretoria but will not be considered for the season opening Test against Wales in London next week.

He will instead do his rehabilitation under the supervision of the Bok medical staff with a view to being in selection contention for the opening Test against Ireland in Pretoria on July 6.

Kolbe suffered a knee niggle during the Japanese club season while on duty for Tokyo Sungoliath. After consultation with the Bok medical team on Sunday, he was released on Monday to seek a specialist opinion. Kolbe returned to camp on Wednesday to follow a rehabilitation programme.

His return to fitness for July’s two Test series against Ireland will be crucial for the Springboks as doubt exists about the availability of Kurt-Lee Arendse, who suffered a facial fracture last weekend.

Should both wings be ruled out, they will join fullback Damian Willemse on the sidelines — which rules out the Bok back three who started the 2023 World Cup final.

With Kolbe out of contention for the Test against Wales only, Makazole Mapimpi and Edwill van der Merwe remain as the recognised wings in the group of 35 players.

The Boks, who last season prided themselves on the versatility in their group, can also call on Aphelele Fassi, Grant Williams and Jesse Kriel to do duty on the wing.

Fassi, who primarily plays fullback for the Sharks, started all three of his Tests on the left wing. In the last two Tests Williams, usually a scrumhalf, started on the wing against Romania and Tonga at the World Cup. Kriel, who normally takes up position at outside centre, started six of his 68 Tests on the wing.

The match-day squad for the opening Test of the season against Wales at Twickenham on June 22 will be announced on Tuesday.

That Test will be followed by the much-anticipated Tests against Ireland in Pretoria and Durban (on July 6 and 13).

The historic first Test against Portugal is scheduled for Bloemfontein on July 20.


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