Siya Kolisi is back as captain and fly-half Handre Pollard win 50th cap as South Africa take on Lions

Siya Kolisi is back from isolation as captain and flying half Handre Pollard wins his 50th cap as South Africa names an experienced team for the first test against the British and Irish Lions

  • Coach Jacques Nienaber has named 11 players who have started the World Cup final
  • Of the other four, two are on the couch and one has stopped international service
  • There are a total of 553 international test caps in the Springbok grid start
  • Lions coach Warren Gatland has yet to name his side for Saturday’s opener

Siya Kolisi will captain South Africa in the Lions Test this Saturday, despite only escaping Covid-19 isolation last week.

The 2019 World Cup winning skipper will be one of several starters to have had the virus recently, including fly-half Handre Pollard, wing Makazole Mapimpi and prop Ox Nche.

Kolisi, Mapimpi and Nche only arrived at the Springbok camp on Monday, after spending 10 days in isolation in Johannesburg, but Boxing boss Jacques Nienaber thinks they are ready for the Lions.

Siya Kolisi set to lead South Africa despite only just returning from Covid-19 isolation

The inspiring flanker will face the British and Irish Lions in the first Test on Saturday

The inspiring flanker will face the British and Irish Lions in the first Test on Saturday

South Africa XV takes on the British and Irish Lions

15 – Willie le Roux (Toyota Verblitz)

14 – Cheslin Kolbe (Toulouse)

13 – Lukhanyo Am (cell C sharks)

12 – Damian de Allende (Munster)

11 – Makazole Mapimpi (cell C sharks)

10 – Handré Pollard (Vice Captain – Montpellier)

9 – Faf de Klerk (Sales Sharks)

8 – Kwagga Smith (Yamaha Jubilo)

7 – Pieter-Steph du Toit (DHL Stormers)

6 – Siya Kolisi (Captain – Cell C Sharks)

5 – Franco Mostert (Honda Heat)

4 – Eben Etzebeth (Toulon)

3 – Trevor Nyakane (Vodacom Bulls)

2 – Bongi Mbonambi (DHL Stormers)

1 – Ox Nché (cell C sharks)


16 – Malcolm Marx (Kubota Spears)

17 – Steven Kitshoff (DHL Stormers)

18 – Frans Malherbe (DHL Stormers)

19 – Lead the Hunter (Sale Sharks)

20 – Rynhardt Elstadt (Toulouse)

21 – Herschel Jantjies (DHL Stormers)

22 – Elton Jantjies (Pau)

23 – Damian Willemse (DHL Stormers)

“Some players had no COVID-19 symptoms at all, they were treated according to their individual needs and they really impressed me with their intensity and enthusiasm during training,” he said.

“The well-being of our players is paramount, so we worked closely with the medical team to find out what the best course of action would be for each player during the three-Test Series.

“Siya is very important. He knows what we are trying to do from a rugby perspective and he is our captain so I am very happy to have him back.”

With 21 World Cup winners involved in the 23-man roster, the Boks will set up a formidable lineup despite their Covid outbreak. The only two who were not on that squad are rear rower Rynhardt Elstadt and Nche.

The entire rear of the World Cup final beating England is intact, with box-office superstars Faf de Klerk and Cheslin Kolbe alongside centers Damian de Allende and Lukhanyo Am and Willie le Roux at fullback.

Up front, Kolisi is joined by Kwagga Smith in number 8 and Peter Steph du Toit in the seven jersey, with Eben Etzebeth and Franco Mostert forming a formidable lock partnership.

On the bench, the Boks took down five forwards and three backs—not the ‘Bomb Squad’ six forwards they had at Japan’s World Cup—with Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff and Frans Malherbe, a fearsome front row trio to finish in second half.

“The battle forward is going to be as tough as it gets, so it’s important that we come on physically and make sure we make our presence felt in the set pieces and at the touch points,” added Nienaber.

“This, combined with their running backs, will put our defense system to the test, but we’ve been looking forward to these games since the end of the Rugby World Cup.

“We’ve done our homework, so it’s a matter of doing everything 100 percent and sticking to our structures.”

The Lions name their team Thursday morning ahead of the first Cape Town Test. South Africa won their last Lions series in 2009, 2-1, beating the tourists in the first two tests and losing the last.

However, that was the last series in which the Lions were beaten by beating Australia 2-1 in 2013 and drawing 1-1 against New Zealand four years ago.

New Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber has appointed an experienced team with 553 test caps

New Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber has appointed an experienced team with 553 test caps