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Springboks captain Siya Kolisi had surgery on his injured knee on Friday just four months before the 2023 Rugby World Cup kicks off.

Siya Kolisi

Springboks captain Siya Kolisi had surgery on his injured knee on Friday just four months before the 2023 Rugby World Cup kicks off. Photo: Shaun Roy/BackpagePix

Springboks captain Siya Kolisi had surgery on his injured knee on Friday just four months before the 2023 Rugby World Cup kicks off, a source familiar with the situation told AFP.

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The 31-year-old loose forward was forced from the field early on in a United Rugby Championship match in Durban last weekend, sparking fears that he could miss the World Cup in France, which begins on September 8.

The operation comes exactly 19 weeks (133 days) ahead of the start of the tournament.

“After consulting numerous specialists, Siya opted for surgery in Cape Town today,” said the source, who requested anonymity as he is not an official spokesperson.

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Rachel Kolisi confirmed in a tweet that her husband had undergone surgery for a partial tear to his anterior cruciate ligaments (ACL).

She said Kolisi could not receive a presidential award this weekend “because he is in hospital for surgery on his knee”.


The National Order of Ikhamanga is awarded to South Africans who have excelled in the fields of arts, culture, literature, music, journalism, and sport.

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Kolisi was told this week that surgery could sideline him for up to nine months, ruling him out of the 20-nation global showpiece.

However, a separate source told AFP there is “hope” that the forward could recover in time to lead South Africa when they defend the title they won in Japan four years ago.

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“The belief early this week was that surgery would rule Siya out of the World Cup, but there now seems to be hope that he might recover in time.

“We are going to read a lot of positive and negative reactions after the surgery, but the truth is no one can be sure right now how long his recovery will take.”

Born in an impoverished eastern Cape township, Kolisi was first capped in 2013 and five years later became the first black Test captain of the Springboks.

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His debut as skipper was dramatic as South Africa overcame a 21-point deficit during the first half to edge England 42-39 in an Ellis Park thriller.

After losing their first match at the 2019 World Cup to arch-rivals New Zealand, the Springboks won six in a row to be crowned champions a record-equalling third time.


There was more glory for Kolisi and his team in 2021 when they recovered from losing the first Test against the British and Irish Lions to win the series 2-1 in Cape Town.

Apart from his rugby achievements, Siya Kolisi has been lauded for the social work he and his wife have undertaken to assist the poor, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.

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