Bongi Mbonambi will become just the second Black player ever to captain the South Africa Springboks when he leads the world champions against Argentina in a Rugby World Cup warmup match in Buenos Aires on Saturday.
Regular captain Siya Kolisi, the first Black player to be named captain of the Boks, is still recovering from a knee injury. Stand-in captains Eben Etzebeth and Duane Vermeulen will not travel with the squad for the game.
Centre Lukhanyo Am, who was widely expected to captain the side, was named as vice-captain.
Mbonambi’s appointment comes at a significant milestone in his playing career. Saturday’s match will be his 60th Test.
Springboks coach Jacques Nienaber described Mbonambi as a “brilliant leader” and said he was proud of him.
“I mean, Bongi is one of our pressure point drivers or game drivers; he’s a no-nonsense leader and a guy that leads by example by doing the hard stuff,” Nienaber said.
“He doesn’t mince his words, he’s a straight shooter, and he’s a guy that demands respect.”
Nienaber added that Mbonambi’s communication with referees was exceptional and that would be a major factor for South Africa.
“With Bongi being a hooker, he is probably the guy that talks to the referee the majority of the time in terms of scrums and lineouts and set pieces.”
(Story compiled with assistance from wire reports)