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Remaining Boks out of Covid-19 isolation

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There is still a nervous wait to see whether Springboks Siya Kolisi and Makazole Mapimpi will be cleared for selection to face the British and Irish Lions.

Siya Kolisi and Handré Pollard embrace after the Rugby World Cup final against England at Yokohama International Stadium. File Picture: Mark Cristino, EPA

CAPE TOWN – THE good news is that Siya Kolisi and Makazole Mapimpi have rejoined the Springbok squad in Cape Town ahead of Saturday’s first Test against the British and Irish Lions, but there is still a nervous wait to see whether they will be cleared for selection.

Bok assistant coach Mzwandile Stick said at an online press conference on Monday that captain Kolisi will lead the side at Cape Town Stadium (6pm kickoff) if he is ready to play, as he and left wing Mapimpi will see a specialist today to evaluate them following their Covid-19 isolation in Johannesburg.

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The first-choice duo were expected to land in Cape Town today, while hooker Bongi Mbonambi arrived in the Mother City on Sunday.

“They must still go and see the specialist to go and get the final (clearance) for Saturday. Anything can happen in terms of results. I’m not a medical specialist … I don’t want to start talking about the medical terms,” Stick said.

“They will go for the final test today, and there are a couple of guys already that we know are cleared to train, so we are hoping that we will get something (from the other guys). They are going to the specialist today, and by tonight, we will probably know who’s fit to play. By Wednesday, whatever we announce, that squad will play the game.

“We trust the protocols in place, and won’t do anything stupid. We’ve got great players in our squad, so if Siya is not fit, we trust the other guys to play in that position. A guy like Rynhardt Elstadt, currently he is winning everything in front of him!

“Marco van Staden we saw against the Bulls, Jasper Wiese … Any of those guys can be selected on Wednesday, and we trust them to do a job for us.”

But Stick was able to confirm that Handré Pollard has been cleared from his Covid-19 protocols, and the flyhalf himself said at the same press conference that he didn’t have any major symptoms during his isolation, and was raring to go.

Stick added that Pollard “has been our vice-captain for a while”, so the No.10 is a candidate to lead the side if Kolisi is not ready. But Lukhanyo Am took charge of the SA A side against the Lions last week, and is also a strong contender to the skipper.

It also remains to be seen whether the likes of Bongi Mbonambi, Frans Malherbe, Lood de Jager and RG Snyman will be up for selection, with the team to be named on Wednesday.

But the former Blitzboks star said that he was not too concerned if some of the senior figures are not able to play this weekend, and that the excitement was palpable for the long-awaited first Test on Saturday.

“I have to be honest and say with everything that has happened in the past two weeks, for us, it happened at the right time because if you look at the squad now, we are probably at 100 percent into our camp now going into the first game,” Stick said.

“Test week now, and we will just focus on what we do best. With the experience that we’ve got, getting guys like Handré Pollard, Eben, guys like Siya, Bongi – those guys who have been with us for a couple of years – getting them back, the vibe is nice and positive. The energy levels are high, so we are just excited and looking forward to the Test match.”

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