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Rassie Erasmus names first black captain of the Springboks

However, the Springbok coach admits: ‘we are trying to fix all the wrong things that we did in the past’.

Image: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

Updated at 21.30

HUMILITY, LEADERSHIP AND hard work through carries and clean-outs are the primary reasons Siya Kolisi will become the first black captain of the Springboks, says Rassie Erasmus.

The 26-year-old Stormers back row was named captain for the upcoming Test series against England yesterday, while Pieter-Steph du Toit will lead a truncated squad to meet Wales for a Test match in Washington this weekend.

The significance of appointing a first black captain for South Africa, 25 years after apartheid, was not lost on Erasmus, but the former Munster director of rugby insists race was not the deciding factor in offering Kolisi the honour.

“I wouldn’t like to look at it that way. I know Siya is a good leader and I am excited about what he can offer us‚” Erasmus said according to Sport24.

“I coached him since he was 18 years old when he arrived at the Stormers from the Eastern Cape and through the academy until he played for the Stormers.

“I know him as a good rugby player. This year he has gone through some tough times with form as captain of the Stormers but he is a great leader.

“I like him because he is humble‚ he is quiet and the way he is playing at the moment he is not flashy.

“With the breakdown work he is doing in attack‚ the carries and clean-outs‚ he is playing almost like a blindside flanker.”

Eben Etzebeth Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

While it appears likely that Warren Whitely or Eben Etzebeth will return to captaincy duties when they regain fitness, the appointment of Kolisi is a landmark moment for Springbok rugby, coming 12 years after Chiliboy Ralepelle captained a South African side against a World XV in a non-Test match in 2006.

Racial tensions in South African rugby remain, of course, and the undercurrent to Erasmus’ squad announcement yesterday stemmed from a row on the SuperSport channel where Ashwin Willemse stormed out of studio complaining of being patronised by fellow ex-Boks Nick Mallett and Naas Botha.

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“Before I was appointed‚” says Erasmus, “I have always understood all the transformation issues and that they are part of the way we are heading and I have bought into that.

“We are trying to fix all the wrong things that we did in the past. The recent things that happened did not have a bearing on this decision because my contract was signed long before that. The players we have in this squad deserve to be here and I am not trying to fabricate things.”

South Africa squad for Test v Wales in Washington

Forwards (16)

Nizaam Carr, Steven Kitshoff, Wilco Louw, Frans Malherbe, Bongi Mbonambi, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Pieter-Steph du Toit (capt) (all Western Stormers), Akker van der Merwe, Daniel du Preez, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Thomas du Toit (all Coastal Sharks), Oupa Mohoje, Ox Nche (both Central Cheetahs), Marvin Orie, Kwagga Smith (both Golden Lions), Jason Jenkins (Northern Bulls)

Backs (10)

Warrick Gelant, Travis Ismaiel, Jesse Kriel, Embrose Papier, Ivan van Zyl (all Bulls), Curwin Bosch, Andre Esterhuizen, Makazole Mapimpi, Cameron Wright (all Sharks), Elton Jantjies (Lions)

South Africa squad for June series v England

Forwards (24)

Nizaam Carr, Steven Kitshoff, Siya Kolisi (Capt), Wilco Louw, Frans Malherbe, Bongi Mbonambi, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Pieter-Steph du Toit (all Western Stormers), Akker van der Merwe, Tendai Mtawarira, Daniel du Preez, Jean-Luc du Preez, Chiliboy Ralepelle, Thomas du Toit (all Coastal Sharks), Jason Jenkins, Trevor Nyakane, RG Snyman (all Northern Bulls), Franco Mostert, Marvin Orie, Kwagga Smith (all Golden Lions), Oupa Mohoje, Ox Nche (both Central Cheetahs), Bismarck du Plessis (Montpellier/FRA), Duane Vermeulen (Toulon/FRA)

Backs (19)

Lukhanyo Am, Curwin Bosch, Andre Esterhuizen, Makazole Mapimpi, Sibusiso Nkosi, Robert du Preez, Cameron Wright (all Sharks), Warrick Gelant, Travis Ismaiel, Jesse Kriel, Embrose Papier, Handre Pollard, Ivan van Zyl (all Bulls), Aphiwe Dyantyi, Elton Jantjies (both Lions), Damian de Allende (Stormers), Faf de Klerk (Sale Sharks/ENG), Willie le Roux (Wasps/ENG), Francois Steyn (Montpellier/FRA)

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