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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 21 August 2018

Kolisi retains South Africa captaincy as Whiteley and Etzebeth return for Rugby Championship

Springboks begin their campaign against Argentina at Kings Park stadium in Durban on August 18

Siya Kolisi, left, led South Africa to a series win over England. AP Photo
Siya Kolisi, left, led South Africa to a series win over England. AP Photo

Siya Kolisi retains the captaincy, three star forwards return after injuries and three uncapped players are included on Monday in the South Africa squad for the Rugby Championship.

Flanker Kolisi became the first black Test captain of the Springboks two months ago and led them to a 2-1 home series victory over England.

Although 2017 captains Warren Whiteley and Eben Etzebeth are back after lengthy injuries, coach Rassie Erasmus kept faith with the leadership of the Western Stormers loose forward.

The recalls of lock Etzebeth, No 8 Whiteley and hooker Malcolm Marx, who missed the England Tests through injury, should greatly strengthen the pack for the championship pitting South Africa against Argentina, Australia and New Zealand.

With Duane Vermeulen unavailable having joined a Japanese club, Golden Lions captain Whiteley is set to regain his place in the middle of the back row.

Provided Etzebeth proves his fitness having missed the entire Super Rugby season, he should regain the No 4 shirt filled impressively by newcomer RG Snyman against England.

Marx is widely regarded as the best hooker in the world and his return will see rapidly improving Bongi Mbonambi go back to the bench.

"Eben and Warren have been out of the Springbok mix for a while because of injury so it is very pleasing to have them back in the squad," said Erasmus.

"Malcolm has regained his good form with the Lions since recovering from his injury," added the coach who also lost a one-off Test to Wales since his June debut.

Nine of the 35-man squad come from the Lions, who lost the Super Rugby final 37-18 to the Canterbury Crusaders in New Zealand last Saturday.

The uncapped trio are Stormers fly-half Damian Willemse and flankers Cyle Brink of the Lions and Marco van Staden of the Northern Bulls.

South Africa launch their Rugby Championship campaign against Argentina at Kings Park stadium in Indian Ocean port city Durban on August 18.

World champions New Zealand meet Australia on the same day in Sydney in a format which sees each country playing the other three at home and away.

Traditionally, the All Blacks dominate the August-to-October championship, the Wallabies and the Springboks fight for second place and the Pumas finish last.

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