Siya Kolisi is back as captain and fly-half Handre Pollard wins 50th cap as South Africa face Lions

Siya Kolisi is back from isolation as captain and fly-half Handre Pollard wins his 50th cap as South Africa name an experienced side for the first Test against the British and Irish Lions

  • Coach Jacques Nienaber has named 11 players who started the World Cup final 
  • Of the other four, two are on the bench and one retired from international duty
  • There is a total of 553 international Test caps in the Springbok starting line-up 
  • Lions coach Warren Gatland is yet to name his side for the opener on Saturday 

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

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

Kolisi, Mapimpi and Nche only arrived in the Springbok camp on Monday, having spent 10 days in isolation up in Johannesburg, but Boks boss Jacques Nienaber thinks they are ready for the Lions.

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

The inspirational flanker will play in the first Test against the British and Irish Lions on Saturday

The inspirational flanker will play in the first Test against the British and Irish Lions on Saturday

South Africa XV to face the British & 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 (Sale Sharks)

8 – Kwagga Smith (Yamaha Júbilo)

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 – Lood de Jager (Sale Sharks)

20 – Rynhardt Elstadt (Toulouse)

21 – Herschel Jantjies (DHL Stormers)

22 – Elton Jantjies (Pau)

23 – Damian Willemse (DHL Stormers) 

‘Some of the players didn’t have COVID-19 symptoms at all, they have been managed according their individual needs, and they have really impressed me with their intensity and enthusiasm at training,’ he said.

‘The well-being of our players is of paramount importance, so we have been working closely with the medical team to work out what would be the best course of action for each player over the three-Test Series.

‘Siya is very important. He’s knows what we’re trying to do from a rugby perspective and he’s our captain, so I’m very happy to have him back.’

With 21 World Cup winners involved in the 23-man squad, the Boks will field a formidable line-up despite their Covid outbreak. The only two that were not in that squad are back-rower Rynhardt Elstadt and Nche.

The entire World Cup final backline that beat England is intact, with box-office superstars Faf de Klerk and Cheslin Kolbe involved alongside centres Damian de Allende and Lukhanyo Am and Willie le Roux at full-back.

Up front Kolisi is joined by Kwagga Smith at No 8 and Peter Steph du Toit wearing the seven shirt, with Eben Etzebeth and Franco Mostert forming a formidable lock partnership.

On the bench the Boks picked five forwards and three backs – not the ‘Bomb Squad’ six forwards they had at the Japan World Cup– with Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff and Frans Malherbe a frightening trio in the front-row to come on in the second half.

‘The forward battle is going to be as tough as it gets, so it’s important that we pitch up physically and ensure that we make our presence felt in the set pieces and at the contact points,’ added Nienaber.

‘This, combined with their hard-running backs, will test our defensive system, but we have been looking forward to these matches since the Rugby World Cup concluded.

‘We have done our homework, so it is a case of doing everything at 100% and sticking to our structures.’

The Lions name their team on 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.

That was the last series the Lions were defeated in, though, having beaten Australia 2-1 in 2013 and drawn 1-1 against New Zealand four years ago.  

New Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber has named an experienced side with 553 Test caps

New Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber has named an experienced side with 553 Test caps