Siya Kolisi will be the first black player to captain South Africa in a rugby Test match after being handed the role for the upcoming series against England.

Kolisi had already become the first black player to temporarily captain South Africa in a Test last year when Eben Etzebeth was injured during a game.

Another black player, Chiliboy Ralepelle, captained a South Africa team against a World XV in a 2006 game that didn’t have Test status.

Kolisi becomes the first black player to be officially appointed Test captain in the Springboks’ 127-year history.

The 26-year-old flanker grew up in a poor township in South Africa’s Eastern Cape province before being spotted by rugby scouts and earning a scholarship to one of the top schools in the region.

He made his debut for the Springboks in 2013 as a fifth-minute replacement and was named man of the match.

The Stormers back-rower got the job in the absence of previous skippers, loose forward Warren Whiteley and lock Eben Etzebeth, who have both been ruled out through injury.

The 26-year-old Kolisi will not be considered for Saturday’s international against Wales in Washington, however, with Stormers teammate Pieter-Steph du Toit wearing the armband for that fixture.

Coach Rassie Erasmus announced an extended squad of 43 players for the June Tests on Saturday and suggested he would take a number of fringe players to face Wales in the United States.

“It’s a huge honour to captain the Springboks and Siya and Pieter-Steph are two honest, hardworking men who enjoy the respect of their fellow players,” Erasmus said in a media release from South African Rugby on Monday.

“I believe both of them will do a good job as captains. My philosophy is that each player must take responsibility for his position and must therefore work extremely hard with that one goal in mind — to make the Springboks successful again.”

The Springboks host England at Ellis Park in Johannesburg on June 9, before matches in Bloemfontein and Cape Town on the following Saturdays.

Reuters

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