Captaincy not such a big issue for Springboks, says Rassie Erasmus

HOOKER Bongi Mbonambi is one of the candidates to captain the Springboks against Wales. Photo: OUPA MOKOENA Independent Newspapers

HOOKER Bongi Mbonambi is one of the candidates to captain the Springboks against Wales. Photo: OUPA MOKOENA Independent Newspapers

Published Jun 15, 2024


THERE are three stand-out candidates to take over as Springbok captain for the first Test against Wales at Twickenham next weekend, but the world champions are not sweating over their options to lead the side in London.

Enforcer Eben Etzebeth, the hard-working Pieter-Steph du Toit and hooker Bongi Mbonambi are the names head coach Rassie Erasmus has in his head, and with a strong core of seniors around them, any one of the three would be up to the task next Saturday.

The London duel will be the Boks’ first Test of the season, and Erasmus’ first back as the main brain since winning the 2019 World Cup in Japan.

It will also be an important benchmark for the reigning world champions as they prepare for a two-Test series against Ireland next month in Pretoria and Durban.

The Irish clashes will also set the tone for the rest of the international season as back-to-back Rugby Championship games against the All Blacks will also be played on home soil.

“Inside the team, to be honest, the captaincy is not such a big thing,” Erasmus said on picking a Bok leader.

“We are playing this Test without Siya (Kolisi, the incumbent captain) and without seeing how he will come back from France.

“We will have to assess him and see how he slots into things. We will have two weeks after the Wales Test. We will appoint a captain for the season then.

“The guys are leading very well – the core group that has been with us for four years.

“They understand there are youngsters around them. We will make the (captaincy) call on Sunday night internally, and then announce the captain for Wales.

“It will probably be Pieter-Steph, Eben or Bongi, but then we might want to start (hooker) Malcolm (Marx) to manage his game-time.”

Erasmus added that Kolisi would come into contention for the captaincy against the Irish when he returns, and is injury-free to take up his duties.

Meanwhile, the returning coach was pleased with how the first week of the training camp with the squad went. The Boks will announce the team for Wales on Tuesday, and fly to London on Wednesday.

The squad is expected to be a mix of experienced players and youngsters.

“It has been an extremely productive week on the field, and we are pleased with the quality of our training sessions and how the new players have grasped our systems and slotted in at training,” Erasmus said.

“It was also fantastic to see how the more experienced players took them under their wing and assisted them during training.

“The Stormers players arrived on Wednesday, and they also immediately made their presence felt at training.

“The alignment camps hosted earlier in the season were invaluable in allowing the players to familiarise themselves with our structures, and it was good to see how things came together on the field after all the off-field sessions we held at the in-person and online sessions in March and May respectively.”

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