South Africa face injury problems ahead of Wales, Ireland tests

CAPE TOWN – World champions South Africa will be missing key players for their clash with Wales in London and the first game of the two-test home series against Ireland next month.

Backs Canan Moodie, Damien Willemse and Kurt-Lee Arendse have been ruled out until after the July 6 game against Ireland in Pretoria. Cheslin Kolbe is also a doubt with a knee problem.

Prop Steven Kitshoff and locks Jean Kleyn and Lood de Jager will also be absent, coach Rassie Erasmus told reporters on Thursday.

South Africa will be bolstered for the meeting with Wales, which falls outside the international window, by players from the Pretoria-based Bulls if the latter lose their home United Rugby Championship semi-final to Ireland’s Leinster on Saturday.

Erasmus confirmed an SOS may be sent to veteran Bulls fullback Willie le Roux if that is the case.

The absence of France-based flanker Siya Kolisi for the Wales test will open the door for a new captain on a temporary, or perhaps permanent, basis, with the twice World Cup-winning skipper not certain to lead the Springboks again.

“Inside the team, the captaincy is not such a big thing,” Erasmus said.

“Without Siya against Wales, it will probably be Pieter-Steph du Toit or Eben (Etzebeth). Or even Bongi (Mbonambi), but we might want to start Malcolm (Marx at hooker) to manage Bongi’s game time.

“But the senior guys are all leading well with their calls (at training), they understand they have youngsters around them and everyone is coaching them with us. For the tests against Ireland, if Siya is fit then he will be in the running.”

Erasmus has long stated he prefers a home-based captain, with Kolisi having moved to Top 14 side Racing 92 following last year’s World Cup triumph.  

The 12-11 victory over New Zealand in the final in France eight months ago was the last time the Springboks played. REUTERS


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