South Africa captain Siya Kolisi tests positive for COVID-19, 12 players isolating ahead of Lions Test

South Africa captain Siya Kolisi tested positive for COVID-19 this weekend and could miss the first Test against the British and Irish Lions. David Rogers/Getty Images

South Africa captain Siya Kolisi has tested positive for the coronavirus, along with five other players in the squad, ahead of the three-Test series against the British & Irish Lions.

The South African team will resume training on Sunday after six rounds of COVID-19 testing and a six-day preventative self-isolation period cleared a large group of players to return to the field, SA Rugby said.

However, along with Kolisi, loose forward Dan du Preez, prop Ox Nche, hookers Bongi Mbonambi and Scarra Ntubeni and wing Makazole Mapimpi all tested positive this weekend, adding to a number of players who contracted the virus last weekend.

Kolisi, coach Jacques Nienaber and 12 other players who tested positive in the week are still in isolation. All the players who tested positive are expected to follow strict return-to-play protocols, SA Rugby said. This leaves them in doubt for the first Test of the series, which is scheduled for July 23.

"With the entire squad and management team confined to their rooms since Monday, however, the possibility of transmission through close contact has been mitigated," SA rugby said in a statement.

Flyhalf Handre Pollard had previously been named among those who returned positive tests along with Lood de Jager, Vincent Koch, Frans Malherbe, S'bu Nkosi, Marvin Orie and Frans Steyn.

Those positive tests, as well as for several members of team management, led to Friday's warm-up test against Georgia being cancelled.

Sharks hooker Fez Mbatha and Bulls prop Lizo Gqoboka have been drafted into the 46-man squad as cover given the number of positive tests.

SA Rugby Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus will take charge of training while Nienaber continues to self-isolate after testing positive for COVID-19 on Monday.

"We are delighted to be able to return to the field and resume our preparations for the Lions series," Nienaber said.

"It has been a challenging week with the test against Georgia cancelled and the entire squad self-isolating for a few days as a preventative measure, so the players cannot wait to get back on the park.

"The test against Georgia was important for us with an eye on preparing to face the British & Irish Lions, but these are extraordinary times and we have to adapt as a team," the statement quoted him as saying."