Springboks kit World Cup

Siya Kolisi, Eben Etzebeth and Cheslin Kolbe. Photo: SA Rugby website.

Springboks revel in leadership boon as RWC looms

The Springboks squad boosts a record four players with Test captaincy experience.

Springboks kit World Cup

Siya Kolisi, Eben Etzebeth and Cheslin Kolbe. Photo: SA Rugby website.

Captain Siya Kolisi has lauded the Springboks’ depth in leadership, which he believes will be a key factor in South Africa’s bid for a record-breaking fourth Rugby World Cup title.

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KOLISI LEADER OF THE SPRINGBOKS’ CAPTAINCY PACK

Kolisi became the first-ever black African captain of the Springboks when he was appointed to the role by then head coach Rassie Erasmus in 2018.

Since then, during times of Kolisi’s absence through injury, the team has had three new captains — Duane Vermeulen, Eben Etzebeth and Bongi Mbonambi, all of whom have been included alongside Kolisi in the Springboks squad for the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

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And Kolisi believes the leadership boon could prove vital in the fight for the Rugby World Cup title.

“I think that’s been one of our core strengths – the leadership in the group has been really good,” said Kolisi.

“When I was made captain in 2018, Rassie and Jacques had known me since I was 18 and they probably knew that I would struggle in the beginning and that I would take time to grow into the role.

“So they built a structure around me so that I just had to worry about the way I played, the discipline and talking to the ref. That gave everybody responsibility in the group, and it has always been like that.

“To be a captain is important for the public to know, and you speak to the ref but everybody is actually a leader in the group.”

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CELEBRATING CLOSE FRIEND’S ELEVATION TO THE TOP JOB

Kolisi celebrated the elevation of his long-term provincial and national teammate, Mbonambi, to the captaincy.

“To have a guy like Bongi become captain is really special,” said Kolisi.

“I was so happy for him. I think Jacques (Nienaber) said it perfectly last week, Bongi demands respect, not by asking for it just the way he carries himself, the way he trains and the standards he sets.

“Duane [Vermeulen] has done it so many times – at the last World Cup and he won the Rugby Championship that year – and Eben has also captained so it’s really good.

“We’ve all got our roles, and no one speaks over each other – we all stay in our lane – that’s really important in the group. Even the young guys, they are also leaders – nobody is above the other. If it’s a question about the kicking game for example, I can’t speak over Grant Williams no matter how many caps he has. If he has a problem and speaks up, then everyone listens and that makes it easier in the group.”

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Siya Kolisi and Springboks 2023 RWC squad graphic Makazole Mapimpi
The Springboks’ 2023 RWC squad. Photo: @SuperSportRugby via Twitter.