Rugby-Kolisi to face Lions after recovering from COVID-19

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Stormers v British and Irish Lions
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By Mark Gleeson

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) -South Africa captain Siya Kolisi and winger Makazole Mapimpi were named on Tuesday in the starting line-up for the first test against the British & Irish Lions after recovering from COVID-19.

Kolisi, Mapimpi and prop Ox Nche were the last group of players to report for duty at the Springbok camp in Cape Town on Monday after completing mandatory self-isolation in Johannesburg.

Coach Jacques Nienaber selected 11 of the 15 players who started the 2019 World Cup final, opting for experience with the test in Cape Town only South Africa's second international since that win over England and preparations for the Lions series hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kolisi played in the warm-up test against Georgia on July 2 but Mapimpi’s last test cap was more than 20 months ago.

"Some of the players didn’t have symptoms at all, they have been managed according their individual needs, and they have really impressed me with their intensity and enthusiasm at training," Nienaber told a news conference.

"The well-being of our players is of paramount importance, so we have been working closely with the medical team to work out what would be the best course of action for each player over the three-test series.

"They are over 500 test caps in the starting line-up and that is what we looking for in terms of experience," Nienaber added.

"It’s going to be massive game in terms of pressure, so we need players who have been exposed to that before."

Nienaber said he expected a brutal clash.

"The forward battle is going to be as tough as it gets, so it’s important that we pitch up physically and ensure that we make our presence felt in the set pieces and at the contact points," added the Bok coach.

"This, combined with their hard-running backs, will test our defensive system, but we have been looking forward to these matches since the Rugby World Cup concluded and we have done our homework, so it is a case of doing everything at 100% and sticking to our structures."

Team:

15-Willie le Roux, 14-Cheslin Kolbe, 13-Lukhanyo Am, 12-Damian de Allende, 11-Makazole Mapimpi, 10-Handre Pollard, 9-Faf de Klerk, 8-Kwagga Smith, 7-Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6-Siya Kolisi (capt), 5-Franco Mostert, 4-Eben Etzebeth, 3-Trevor Nyakane, 2-Bongi Mbonambi, 1-Ox Nche

Replacements: 16-Malcolm Marx, 17-Steven Kitshoff, 18-Frans Malherbe, 19-Lood de Jager, 20-Rynhardt Elstadt, 21-Herschel Jantjies, 22-Elton Jantjies, 23-Damian Willemse.

(Editing by Ed Osmond)

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