Nienaber on Kolisi's return: It's awesome having him back

Nienaber on Kolisi's return: It's awesome having him back

Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber hailed the hard work captain Siya Kolisi put in to get over his knee injury.

Just 17 weeks ago - a mere blip in terms of anterior cruciate ligament injuries - Kolisi limped off the field in Durban with what would be diagnosed as a partial tear in his ACL, putting his Rugby World Cup in serious doubt.

While Kolisi received world-class treatment, it is remarkable that he is set to lead the Springboks out against Wales on Saturday in Cardiff. Speaking to RugbyPass, Nienaber said his return was a just reward for all the work and rehabilitation his captain had put in over the last few months.

"It is awesome having him back," said the head coach.

"He had been part of the team for quite some time, it is not like he was out. He did his rehab with us and was with us the majority of the time.

"Although he did his own rehab stuff on the side, he was part of the team sessions and although he is only on the field now, he was part of the team from the start. It's nice to have hit back and playing again because he has worked hard and he really deserves it.

"Siya has put a lot of effort and sacrifice in to be ready now. It's a reward for him to be ready to get an opportunity to play and it is nice for the team to have him back because he has been an integral part of this team over the last six years that we have been together.

"It will be nice to give him some game exposure over the next couple of games to make sure he is battle-hardened and ready and sharp when we go into the World Cup and into that same against Scotland."

On the injury itself, Nienaber explained how Kolisi had recovered sooner than expected and he was not being rushed back into the squad.

"Whenever there is an injury, you are never 100 per cent sure... you have certain markers over time, and he was hitting them consistently and sometimes a little bit quicker than we expected," he added.

"Those markers are objective, does he have full range of movement, does he have full extension, does he have this, does he have that?

"The moment he hits all these markers he can progress to the next stage. In the beginning, you are not sure. A setback can come and then you have to pull back a bit and then you have to wait until it settles down and then he can push again. I don't think he had one setback in all the markers."

READ MORE: Springboks welcome back captain Siya Kolisi for Wales clash in Cardiff