Cheslin Kolbe. (EJ Langner/Gallo Images)
- The Springboks won’t be pressing Cheslin Kolbe into service too early despite the looming challenge of facing the All Blacks.
- The influential winger is currently still recovering from a leg injury sustained in training and the unpredictable nature of rehab means team management don’t want to take a chance.
- Lood de Jager is expected to be back from concussion next week, but there’s full faith in Marvin Orie to step up in his place this weekend.
The Springboks aren’t planning on rushing Cheslin Kolbe back into action because doing so holds the risk of gremlins creeping into his rehabilitation process.
South Africa’s dazzling winger, considered the best in the world in his position, was again unable to stake a claim for selection in Saturday’s Rugby Championship meeting with Australia in Brisbane as he continues to recover from a leg injury.
Kolbe sustained the blow during a training session in quarantine about two weeks ago.
“We wouldn’t have kept in him our group if we weren’t confident that he’d be ready for the next two weeks’ matches against the All Blacks,” said Jacques Nienaber, the Springboks’ head coach.
“But rehab is a funny thing. You can build your fitness up again and return to full contact training and then load increases and the player experiences pain again.
“Injuries isn’t something you can say: ‘He’s going to be ready on that date’. There are projections and that tells us he’ll be available for selection in the next two weeks, but it’s all dependent on his recovery.”
At least Kolbe isn’t stuck being immobile and is on the training field, even if it’s on his own.
“He ran (on Wednesday), quite well actually, on the sidelines. Cheslin is not a guy we’ll rush. He hasn’t done any team training yet,” said Nienaber.
“The moment he has full range again, his running is up to standard and the medical team are happy, we’ll introduce him back to team training. We have a return-to-play protocol that includes return-to-training, which is the stage he’s at.
“Cheslin is an experienced guy, he’s approaching the situation correctly.”
Lood de Jager’s talismanic presence in the lineouts, however, is only expected to be missing this week as he recovers from concussion.
“If everything goes well, it normally takes seven days. I’m sure he’ll be up for selection next week,” said Nienaber.
As a result, the Boks lose a player who recently joined the 50-cap club, but team management isn’t concerned by replacing him with a player who’s only made six international appearances in Marvin Orie.
“The thing is, Lood is experienced and Marvin has only played a handful of Tests. So you’re definitely losing out on a player very much used to international rugby,” said Nienaber.
“That said, Marvin is a very experienced rugby player himself. He’s played a lot of Super Rugby and at first-class level. Importantly, he and Eben Etzebeth attended the same school, so they know each other well.
“Marvin is with us on this tour because we trust him as a player and we’re really looking forward to what he brings to the party.”
Kick-off is at 09:05 (SA time) on Saturday.
15 Willie le Roux, 14 Sbu Nkosi, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Franco Mostert, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Trevor Nyakane
Substitutes: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Marco van Staden, 20 Kwagga Smith, 21 Jasper Wiese, 22 Herschel Jantjies, 23 Damian Willemse