Springbok captain Siya Kolisi’s participation in the World Cup is in serious doubt after he suffered an apparent partial tear to his anterior cruciate ligaments (ACL) in his final home game for the Sharks this past Saturday in the United Rugby Championship (URC).
What compounds the injury and makes the outlook bleak for the 2019 World Cup-winning captain ahead of France 2023, is that he apparently injured his meniscus on both sides of the injured knee.
According to a close source with knowledge of the injury and who spoke to IOL Sport confidentially, Kolisi has already seen two specialists – one being his own, who recommended surgery. Kolisi will see a third specialist on Tuesday for another opinion.
The Sharks on Monday confirmed Kolisi went for scans and will see a specialist.
The way forward for the Springbok captain will only then be planned.
If he undergoes surgery, as recommended, it means Kolisi will be out of rugby for up to nine months. He will most certainly then miss out on the Rugby World Cup that starts in September, and the opportunity to defend the title with his Springbok teammates.
If he opts not to go for surgery, it will take the injury to his meniscus up to four months to heal, meaning he will be touch-and-go for the Boks in their quest to defend the Webb Ellis Cup.
Either way, his injury is not good for the Boks ahead of the tournament.
Kolisi injured his knee in the sixth minute of the Sharks’ clash against Munster in this past weekend’s URC action but continued playing, suggesting the injury was not too serious.
He was eventually substituted, though, but walked around the field after the match, thanking fans as his time playing at the Shark Tank came to an end.
Kolisi walking about after the game also suggested that the injury was not too grave. The 31-year-old Kolisi will be moving on to French Top 16 club Racing 92 for the new season after the World Cup.
The revelation that the Bok skipper’s injury could be more severe, was hinted at by his wife Rachel, who posted a message on the social media app Instagram earlier on Monday, asking family, friends and followers for prayers without mentioning her husband directly.
The defending champions are already pooled in the so-called group of death with Ireland, Scotland, Tonga and Romania. They start their campaign on September 10 against Scotland.
Heading to the World Cup without Kolisi as captain could have a big influence on the South Africans and their campaign. They will almost certainly now play the truncated Rugby Championship tournament without their inspirational captain, with the departing head coach, Jacques Nienaber, most likely having to make a plan to replace his skipper.
Handre Pollard is the vice-captain of the national senior men’s team, but Lukhanyo Am could also fulfil the role, as has Eben Etzebeth in the past.
The Boks start the Championship in a little over two months against Australia on July 8 in Pretoria, before travelling to New Zealand a week later for the second match in Auckland. The final match is on July 29 against Argentina in Johannesburg.
After the Rugby Championship, South Africa will play three Tests against Argentina, Wales and the All Blacks ahead of the World Cup kick-off. These Tests will most probably give Kolisi, if he opts to recover without having surgery on his knee, some much-needed international game time before the showpiece event.
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