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Captain Kolisi among latest Covid positives but Springboks resume training

The World Cup winners have “a large group” of players back on the pitch today.

Springboks captain Siya Kolisi.
Springboks captain Siya Kolisi.
Image: PA

THE SPRINGBOKS HAVE confirmed that World Cup-winning captain Siya Kolisi is among the latest group of positive Covid-19 cases in their squad.

Nine new cases in recent days bring to 23 the total number of confirmed positive cases in the Springboks’ set-up over the last two weeks as the virus wreaks havoc on their build-up to a three-game Test series against Warren Gatland’s Lions.

Kolisi, Makazole Mapimpi, Bongi Mbonambi, Dan du Preez, Ox Nché, and Scarra Ntubeni are the latest players to test positive, while three members of team management have also recorded positive tests.

Head coach Jacques Nienaber is among those still in isolation after the Springboks reported 12 new cases in their camp earlier this week.

The Boks say they undertook four rounds of PCR testing this week and also enforced a “six-day preventative self-isolation period,” meaning that they haven’t trained at all since last week. Their planned clash with Georgia on Friday was cancelled.

However, SA Rugby says the testing and isolation has now cleared “a large group of players” to resume training today as the Boks look to kick-start their preparation for the Lions series again.

“With the entire squad and management team confined to their rooms since Monday, however, the possibility of transmission through close contact has been mitigated,” said SA Rugby.

The Boks have called up Sharks hooker Fez Mbatha and Bulls prop Lizo Gqoboka to cover for some of their Covid-related absences in the front row.

With Nienaber still isolating, SA Rugby director of rugby Rassie Erasmus will lead Springboks training.

South Africa A – a team that will be formed from the Springboks squad – are currently still due to play the Lions on Wednesday in Cape Town.

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“We’re delighted to be able to return to the field and resume our preparations for the Castle Lager Lions Series,” said Nienaber.

“It has been a challenging week with the Test against Georgia cancelled and the entire squad self-isolating for a few days as a preventative measure, so the players cannot wait to get back on the park.

“The Test against Georgia was important for us with an eye on preparing to face the British & Irish Lions, but these are extraordinary times and we have to adapt as a team, and I have to commend the players and management for that.

“We are a tight-knit coaching team and everyone takes responsibility in their respective roles.

“It is also great to have Rassie steering the ship while I am away. He has been part of the system for several years now and he guided most of these players to the Rugby World Cup title in 2019, so the team is in great hands.”

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