Can the Boshoff fairytale continue?
Can the Boshoff fairytale continue?SHARE
Some pundits feel that Marnitz Boshoff's meteoric to the Green and Gold club was destined to happen – not if, but when!
From relative obscurity at Griquas in Kimberley, to the heady heights of international rugby in just over a year.
However, the challenge is now for him to maintain the standard that saw him make his Springbok debut against Scotland last week, according to Lions coach Johan Ackermann.
While the 10-minute Test cameo at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium would have been a blur – even with the conversion he kicked for his first international points – Boshoff has to quickly refocus on a Super Rugby outing for the Lions against the Rebels in Johannesburg on Friday.
Ackermann, as has been the case for most of the season, named the new Bok ahead of fellow international flyhalf Elton Jantjies in the starting No.10 jersey.
Ackermann, speaking to rugby365 ahead of the Lions' Round 18 encounter with the Australian tourists, said was a "tough call", as both players have great qualities.
"Elton [Jantjies] have worked very hard [at training] the past two weeks and Bossie [Marnitz Boshoff] made his Test debut last Saturday [against Scotland]," Ackermann said, when asked about the decision.
"He has been playing and that means he is in good nick.
"Also, we went for consistency, similar to the last team," he said of the Lions' first-ever Super Rugby win (32-21) over the Bulls back in May.
Because Boshoff started in that match and Jantjies came off the bench, the Lions mentor opted for the same pecking order.
"We are looking for Bossie to continue with that [the form that took him into the Bok team]."
He described Boshoff's rise from obscurity to the Green and Gold as a fairytale.
"To see where he started and how he used the opportunities afforded to him to get into the Bok team is just amazing," Ackermann said of the 25-year-old.
"For him the important thing is that he must focus on what is ahead of him, the next game," the coach told rugby365, adding: "That is the one thing about rugby, you are only as good as your last game.
"The challenge for him now, after getting up there [in the Bok team], is to make sure he stays at that level [of performances].
"He has the ability and the talent, and I have confidence in him."
Ackermann also paid credit to the Lions' backroom staff, who worked hard behind the scene to see the team get some representation in the national team.
There is kicking coach JP Ferreira and backline mentor Swys de Bruin.
"Bossie has his own routine, but the guy who is looking after our kickers is JP [Ferreira]. Swys [de Bruin] also brought another dimension to Bossie's game.
"We do have a different gameplan [at the Lions] and it helped Bossie, so that he isn't just a kicking flyhalf. He has certainly also worked on his attacking game.
"However, I feel it comes from both sides – while the coaching staff can do their bit, the player also has to be prepared to work hard and we have in Bossie exactly a player like that, who doesn't shirk hard work.
"The same goes for Elton [Jantjies].
"We also have a number of other players who could, perhaps, soon get the same reward [Bok selection] because of their great work ethic."
Boshoff's rise to prominence started in 2013, after joining the Lions from Griquas. The 25-year-old made the No.10 jersey his own, while regular flyhalf Elton Jantjies spent several months on loan at the Stormers.
He was the highest point-scorer in the 2013 Currie Cup and has earned himself the reputation as one of the most reliable goal-kickers in the country.
While selection for the South African Schools confirmed his potential, stints at the Blue Bulls and Griquas somehow did not do justice to his abilities.
However, it was his move to Johannesburg last year that eventually resulted in Boshoff becoming one of eight uncapped players that were called up to a Springbok training camp prior to the 2014 mid-year Tests.
Although not initially selected in the 36-man squad, Boshoff was called up to the squad when Damian de Allende suffered a knee ligament injury.
And the rest, as they say, is history.
By Jan de Koning