Ready to don the green and gold
The young man facing a loose scrum of rugby writers appeared more nervous than he ever was in front of the most ferocious forwards of New Zealand and Australia in the Super Rugby competition.
Moments later, he choked up and tears welled in his eyes as he spoke of his inspiration in life: “Definitely my dad, even though he wasn’t there for most of it. My goal was always to make it to the Boks and make him proud.”
At 24, he is within touching distance of fulfilling his dream – becoming a Springbok like his father.
This is Cobus Reinach, the Sharks’ scrum half who, in recognition of outstanding play in Super Rugby, has been called into the Springbok squad for the Rugby Championship.
He was named after his father, Jacobus – or Jaco as he be- came known – an iconic athlete and the last person to win Springbok colours in both rugby and athletics.
Pace is something Cobus, who was six when his father died in a car accident, has inherited.
He is quick on the break and scored a number of tries this season by outsprinting defenders as he chased balls, kicked ahead or hacked through to the goal line.
How much pace? He doesn’t know, saying that in athletics his start was too slow and preferred the 200m, which gave him more time to catch up. But that he’s up for a challenge against the speed merchants in the side.
An old boy of Grey College in Bloemfontein, Reinach surprisingly did not follow the usual production line of that famous rugby factory – Craven Week to SA Schools to SA Under-20 to Springbok.
Having been moved to scrum half when he played Under-13 because it was felt he was too small for wing, he did not make the Free State Craven Week side in his matric year. Fortunately, though, his fitness trainer Andre Volsteedt, who had taken up a post at the Sharks, had “seen something in the boy” and persuaded him to move to Durban after school.
Young Reinach acquired a coaching post at Glenwood High School, donned his togs in the Sharks club competition and as he grew to be sturdier won his first provincial cap in 2011.
With Fourie du Preez being injured and scrum half being such a key position, Bok coach Heyneke Meyer acknowledged the dynamic package Reinach could provide and decided it was time he joined the squad.
“I’m trying to keep emotion out of it until I actually get to the team [itself],” he said, recognising that you’re not a Springbok until you wear the jersey in a match. “So I’m doing my best and working my hardest to get there, but I’m sure the first moment [of running on to the field] will be a very emotional time for me.”
His heroes in the No 9 jersey are his new team-mate Du Preez (eight years his senior) and Wallaby George Gregan, although he admits he is a keen student. “I watch, and if someone does something good, I try to copy it.”
The 23-man Springbok squad to take on Argentina at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Saturday (kickoff 17:05) will be named on Wednesday
NEW BLOOD Cobus Reinach of the Sharks takes after his father Jaco, who was a double Springbok – in athletics and rugby