Cape Town - Coach Rassie Erasmus believes that the Springbok captaincy caught Siya Kolisi off guard when he was first given the responsibility in 2018. 

Kolisi will lead the Boks into battle against England in Saturday's Rugby World Cup final, and the possibility of him becoming the first black Bok captain to lift the Webb Ellis cup has dominated the build-up to the match. 

Erasmus admits, though, that he did not understand the significance of Kolisi captaining the Boks when he made that decision ahead of the June Tests against England in 2018. 

Kolisi, who will earn his 50th Test cap on Saturday, has had a strong relationship with Erasmus since the very beginning of his professional career and it is well known that Erasmus has always rated him incredibly highly. 

That, more than anything, is why Erasmus appointed Kolisi as his skipper. 

"To be honest with you, the initial appointment of Siya as captain the plan never was this to make this big thing to get the country behind us," Erasmus said on Thursday. 

"One day you'll hear from the players how Siya was appointed captain.

"Siya was actually the best-performing Super Rugby team captain, and that’s the reason why he became captain of the Springboks.

"It was very sudden on him – I didn’t have a lot of conversations with him before that first Test match he became the captain.

"So, it wasn’t like four or five months where we sat down and worked out a strategy and a plan. It was just before the England Test match."

In hindsight, Erasmus thinks he may have been naive while he also believes that the captaincy impacted negatively on Kolisi's game for a while. 

"It was a sudden thing, and I was caught a bit off guard- maybe a bit naive - in thinking that this wouldn't be such a massive thing for him.

"I was a bit naive, because the whole emotional thing that went around that in South Africa about having the first black captain for the Springboks certainly caught Siya off guard. It caught me off guard.

"And I thought his game suffered a little bit in the first few games. Then he got better and better, and we always knew he was a great player.

"When that got better, he got an injury, and when he got back from the injury, then he had to be captain again, and we had to get him slowly back into the mix for the World Cup.

"But the timing is great now. The last two games, he had great games again, and we also managed his gametime really well. He is firing fit to have a good final.

"It’s his 50th Test match, and it is fitting and a wonderful occasion for a guy to be the captain, the first black captain – now it’s also sunk into me.

"I understand how big it is, and I am not so naive any more.

"It is a wonderful story, and for him to handle those emotional – not stress – but emotional extras, which come with something that I didn’t expect, is just wonderful, and really, well done by him."