Ready to don the green and gold

CityPress - - Sport - DAN RETIEF dan.retief@city­press.co.za

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

PHOTO: GER­HARD DU­RAND / BACK­PAGEPIX

NEW BLOOD Cobus Reinach of the Sharks takes af­ter his fa­ther Jaco, who was a dou­ble Spring­bok – in ath­let­ics and rugby

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