Boks need the Lood of old
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: If ever there was a time for Lodewyk de Jager to start rediscovering the form that made him a star in 2015, it would be in Saturday's clash against the All Blacks at Newlands on Saturday.
De Jager, who be staring in the No.5 jersey this weekend, was South Africa's Player of the Year in 2015 after some strong and influential performances in the green and gold, but he has never built on that fantastic year.
With his return to the starting XV in such a high-profile clash, there will definitely be a spotlight on the big man
"I am definitely excited for the weekend," said De Jager. "It has been a while since I actually started for the Boks, so it is a big occasion on Saturday and hopefully we can do well as a team.
He added: "I think 2016 was a very disappointing year for me personally.
"I was struggling with some injuries - playing two weeks and out again or playing three or four games and then out again, but I am feeling good.
"The proof will be in the pudding. I can't say too much, we will see on Saturday."
The Boks struggled in the line-outs the last time they faced the All Blacks in Albany and De Jager could play an integral role in rectifying that problem in Cape Town.
"I won't call it a master plan, but we prepared well and so I think the proof is in the pudding on Saturday.
"We will just want to go out and execute what we planned very well.
"I think in Albany, we lost five of our line-out balls, but I think all five of them were our own execution errors.
"They [All Blacks] have a world-class line-out unit and they put the pressure on, but I think we should control what we can and execute as well as we can," De Jager added.
*Meanwhile, Springbok André Venter presented the Springboks with their match jerseys at their team hotel in Cape Town.
Venter played in 66 Tests for the Springboks between 1996 and 2001 and was a member of the team that won the bronze medal at the 1999 Rugby World Cup in the United Kingdom.
He has been in a wheelchair in recent years after being struck down by a degenerative syndrome of the central nervous system called transverse myelitis. He is a successful businessman and also a motivational speaker.
Venter shared some inspirational words with the Springboks before he presented the match 23 with their playing jerseys for Saturday's clash with New Zealand.
"I can see there is something special happening within this group," said Venter to the current crop of Springboks, and urged the players to embrace the responsibility of wearing the green and gold.
"It is important to believe in what you're doing and where you’re heading. The Springboks have an unbelievable history and you must be able to write your own chapter."
Venter had the honour to present the Bok players with their jerseys on two previous occasions, and said he was extremely grateful and blessed to do so for a third time. The honour of playing for the team and your country is something that is not easy to describe, explained Venter.
"Only when you're no longer playing and not part of that unique circle anymore, that is when it dawns on you how special the Springbok environment is. My advice to the players is to enjoy the experience and to make a telling contribution to the rich story of the Springboks," said Venter.
By Warren Fortune