Bok captain Kolisi back from injury for World Cup warm-up in WalesTue, 15 Aug 2023 12:58:14 GMT

Siya Kolisi has handed South Africa a huge World Cup boost as the Springboks captain returns from injury to make his first Test appearance this year in Saturday’s World Cup warm-up against Wales.Kolisi suffered a serious knee injury in April, with medical experts initially despondent about his chances of featuring in the World Cup in France next month.But the flanker has defied the odds with a quicker-than-expected recovery and will lead South Africa in Cardiff this weekend.Scrum-half Jaden Hendrikse is also back in the South Africa team after battling a shoulder injury and then leaving the Pretoria training base temporarily to mourn the loss of his father Brian.Ox Nche is named among the replacements after the prop returned from a chest injury while training for the season opener against Australia.The trio missed the first four matches of the Springboks’ season in July and August against Australia, New Zealand and Argentina (twice).Bolstered by his returning players, Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber named an experienced starting line-up as the World Cup looms into sight.Nienaber made 11 changes to the starting team that defeated Argentina 24-13 in Buenos Aires two weeks ago.”Siya and Ox have been working extremely hard on their rehabilitation over the course of several weeks, and it’s fantastic that everything worked out according to plan to allow us to select them for this match,” Nienaber said.”They have two matches to build up their match fitness before the World Cup, and although it will be important to manage their load in the match, it’s vital that they return to the field as they are key players in our set-up.”Jaden was unfortunate not to play in the last few weeks, but he is a top-class player and he’s been training hard, so we are pleased that he’ll finally get his chance this weekend.”South Africa’s World Cup opener is against Scotland on September 10 and Nienaber is starting to fine-tune his team in preparation.Kolisi and Pieter-Steph du Toit will partner with Jasper Wiese in the forward pack against Wales — a combination that last appeared together against Ireland in November.Munster locks Jean Kleyn and RG Snyman will start together in Springbok jerseys for the first time.”We have two Tests left before we begin our Rugby World Cup campaign and our focus now is to start building momentum and continuity so that we can peak at the right time for our opening game against Scotland in just under four weeks,” said Nienaber, whose side face New Zealand in London in their final World Cup warm-up on August 25.”We gave most of the players in the expanded squad a run in the last four matches and they are now battle hardened and we know anyone in this squad can step in and rise to the challenge whenever they are selected.”South Africa team to play Wales:Backs (15-1)Willie le Roux; Canan Moodie, Jesse Kriel, Damian de Allende, Cheslin Kolbe; Manie Libbok, Jaden Hendrikse; Jasper Wiese, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Siya Kolisi (capt), RG Snyman, Jean Kleyn, Frans Malherbe, Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff, ReplacementsBongi Mbonambi, Ox Nche, Vincent Koch, Franco Mostert, Marco van Staden, Duane Vermeulen, Grant Williams, Damian Willemse