The Springbok captain Siya Kolisi is fired up to lead his team to glory at this year’s Rugby World Cup tournament – especially after he was unsure for months whether he would be fit for the World Cup that starts next week in France after a knee injury and surgery.
However, the rugby captain said after the Boks’ latest victory over New Zealand that he seems to have recovered from his injury without any after-effects.
South African supporters cheered at the Twickenham Stadium in London last weekend when Kolisi was busy with his post-match interview.
“Thank you, thank you,” Kolisi told the crowd.
“You remind us why we work so hard. We do it for you.”
Barely a year after Kolisi was named the Springbok captain in 2018, the Boks held up the World Cup in Japan. However, he suffered a serious knee injury earlier this year, which could take up to nine months to heal.
Kolisi admitted at the time that his wife was in tears when he told her he might not make it to the World Cup.
“I was very scared,” he says.
However, Rassie Erasmus, SA Rugby’s (Saru) director of rugby, and head coach Jacques Nienaber supported him continuously.
“He is our captain. We will not replace him – we will have stand-in captains,” Erasmus said at the time.
The Springboks had three different stand-in captains in four games before Kolisi’s return to the team: Duane Vermeulen, Eben Etzebeth and Bongi Mbonambi.
“We will give him as much time as possible,” Nienaber said amid ongoing questions about the captain’s chances of making it to France.
Thanks to the skilled surgeon Willem van der Merwe – and Kolisi’s determination – the dream of leading the Boks at this year’s World Cup was kept alive.
It took less than four months before Kolisi led the team again on 19 August in a warm-up match against Wales in Cardiff.
But with the World Cup looming, he said after the Twickenham clash that “the hard work starts now”.
After training camps in Corsica and Toulon, South Africa begin their march to defend their World Cup title when they play Scotland in Marseille on 10 September.
The Springboks will also face Romania, Ireland and Tonga in Group B, with the top two teams qualifying for the quarter-finals.