COACH Rassie’s 2018 target, specified in his contract, was 45 per cent players of colour in all matchday squads, going up to 50 per cent by 2019. He said three things about that. First, knowing the figure was a good thing, so we all knew where we stood. Second, he wouldn’t be handing out cheap caps or altering squads just to make those numbers. Third, there was enough talent in the Super Rugby franchises – which he and his staff kept a close eye on – for us to be competitive and transformed all at once, and the new policy of honest selection would help that. Few, if any, black players had ever been kept in the team when they didn’t deserve to; lots of white players had. No more.
Just to show how serious he was about integration, for our first home game under his leadership, against England at Ellis Park, he picked 11 black players in the matchday 23 and gave three black players their first start. But his biggest decision, and the biggest shock, he saved until last; and it came in a normal team meeting with no warning at all.
‘Siya will be captain for the England Tests,’ he said. ‘Siya will be captain for the England Tests.’ ..
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