With provincial allegiances now put aside, Cheetahs flank Oupa Mohoje believes the experience and pedigree that the Lions players bring to the Springbok squad will be vital in the Rugby Championship.
Allister Coetzee’s side will start the tournament with a clash against Argentina at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, followed by matches against Australia and New Zealand. In recent years, the Boks have been unable to hold their own against New Zealand and having shown some improvements against France in the three match series, the biggest expectation is that they could finish second in the Championship after Steve Hansen’s All Blacks.
For Mohoje, though, the Boks have a lot to be positive about if they can draw inspiration from the Lions’ Super Rugby semifinal win over the Hurricanes and gallant display in the defeat to the Crusaders in the final, where they produced a good performance even when they were down to 14 men.
“Facing France in those three matches was tough, but you cannot compare that to the Rugby Championship. It will be a different challenge and we are definitely preparing well for it. “The previous year was a bad one and we want to make it up to the nation and to ourselves. What we can promise at the moment is results and some good rugby,” Mohoje said. “But having the Lions players in the team will help a lot because they have played rugby at the highest level in the last couple of months.
“We will draw from their fights against the Hurricanes and Crusaders. For the Boks though, the wins against France brought about a bigger wave of expectation and we set some lofty standards against France. We will have to play every game like it is our last.” There aren’t too many issues as questions regarding who will captain the Springboks with regular captain Warren Whiteley sidelined have been answered with Eben Etzebeth getting the nod. Mohoje is now focused on making the final squad.
“To play for the Springboks in Bloemfontein where I play my rugby for the Cheetahs will be exciting, but for me the important thing is to make the final team that will start with the first match against Argentina in Port Elizabeth.”