Cheslin knee niggle worries Boks as Gumede gets call up

rugby10 June 2024 13:30
By:Brenden Nel
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Cheslin Kolbe © Getty Images

There was more injury concern for the Springboks on Monday as star winger Cheslin Kolbe was released from the camp to attend to a knee “niggle” that may keep him out of the test match v Wales on 22 June.

In his place, the Boks have called up a left-field option - obviously not to cover his position - in Vodacom Bulls loose forward Celimpilo Gumede to join the camp.

Gumede hasn’t been part of the Bulls match day 23 of late and with the return of Marco van Staden and Marcell Coetzee to fitness ahead of the Bulls' Vodacom United Rugby Championship semifinal against Leinster on Saturday it is unlikely he will feature this week as well.

With that in mind, the Boks have called him up, and his performances in the URC have been good enough to warrant him joining the national squad after being earlier invited to the Bok alignment camp.

“Kolbe, who was named among 35 players for the Boks’ first training camp of the year, joined his teammates in the country’s capital city on Sunday evening, but he was released on Monday to examine the extent of niggle which he picked up during his regular Japanese club season,” a team statement said.

The Bulls agreed to release Gumede after a request from the Boks, who expressed their thanks for the assistance.

“Celimpilo has been playing impressive rugby this season and we are excited to see how he integrates in the squad and what he has to offer at training,” said Springbok head coach Rassie Erasmus.

“We would like to extend our gratitude to the Bulls for allowing him to join us at short notice, especially at such an important point of their URC season.”


If Kolbe is unable to play against Wales, it will leave some interesting choices for Erasmus.

Edwill van der Merwe and Makazole Mapimpi are the only two specialist wingers left in the camp at the moment, while Kurt-Lee Arendse and Canan Moodie, both World Cup winners, were injured in the last week while at the Bulls.

Willie le Roux is also unavailable as he is with the Bulls while Jesse Kriel has covered wing in the past for the national team and could be called on to do so again at short notice.

Quan Horn and Aphelele Fassi are the selected fullbacks in Le Roux’s absence but Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu has also played fullback.

Damian Willemse is injured, and it may well be that Fassi may have to cover on the wing in an emergency.

The other outsider for the wing spot is Grant Williams, the halfback who has come off the bench and played on the wing for the Boks before.

The Springboks will conclude the first week of their training camp on Friday and will re-assemble on Sunday.

The team that will face Wales in the opening test of the season at Twickenham will be named next week Tuesday, with the squad set to depart for London a day later, next Wednesday evening.