Siya Kolisi (Gallo Images)
Cape Town – Siya Kolisi will need to be armed and ready for possible infusion off the bench in Saturday’s World Cup opener for the Springboks against Japan at Brighton’s Community Stadium (17:45 SA time).
The Stormers flank seems the reasonably obvious next cab off the rank on the open side if Francois Louw, the Bath-based customer who is returning from a rotator cuff injury, finds it difficult to go the full distance.
Louw’s last Test was slightly out of normal habitat these days at blindside flank against the All Blacks in Johannesburg – when Heinrich Brussow was still in favour as chief fetcher – on July 25, so he has not had a gallop in match terms for fairly close to two months.
But he is one of several previously crocked Boks being filtered back against Japan, and coach Heyneke Meyer is bound to be especially vigilant over which players look more durable than others on Saturday, and thus ready to resort to his bench to a pronounced extent if necessary.
The two reserve forwards who can cover “loosie” spots against Japan will be Kolisi and Pieter-Steph du Toit, although the latter is more likely to be primarily earmarked as the lock cover – and the rest of the bench pack members are all front-rankers.
There is always the possibility that eternally versatile Schalk Burger, who again starts at No 8 with Duane Vermeulen not yet thrown back into battle after his neck injury, can resort to the open-side duty if necessary.
But Kolisi has a good chance of getting onto the park, for his 12th cap, whether it is as a six or seven flanker, given that Willem Alberts is also not back in a regular playing habit yet – the “Bone Collector” had 64 good minutes against Argentina in Buenos Aires but had seen very little consistent service before that in the 2015 season as a whole.
One pleasing thing about Kolisi is that his maiden Bok appearance, against Scotland at Mbombela in 2013, probably remains his finest ... and it came as an unusually early, fourth-minute replacement for Arno Botha after the Bulls man lucklessly tore knee ligaments.
Touch wood, the 24-year-old from Zwide won’t have to be rushed on quite so soon against Japan, but he seems a strong bet for some constructive service to the cause during the second half.
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