Mo­hoje’s confidence grow­ing with ev­ery Bok game

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - MIKE GREENAWAY

THERE was a time when a nine- year- old Te­boho Mo­hoje ducked his head into the rucks and mauls as a fledg­ling rugby loose for­ward, and his coach in Bloem­fontein said that he hov­ered around like an Oupa, not Te­boho.

And so the nick­name was born. As it turns out, the 26-yearold “Oupa” is still ob­vi­ously any­thing but a vet­eran in the Spring­bok team and to­day he says he will give ev­ery­thing to prove that he is Oupa in name only against the French in the sec­ond Test of the se­ries against the vis­i­tors in Dur­ban.

“I was Free State born and bred, in QwaQwa, and I spent seven years there com­pletely un­aware of the game of rugby, be­fore my fam­ily moved to Bloem­fontein,” said the ge­nial flank

“I am not go­ing to bluff you and say I grew up want­ing to be a Spring­bok,” he says. “It was only when I went to Bloem­fontein and learned the game of rugby that I first had a dream of be­com­ing a Spring­bok.

“I watched those players on TV and I knew that I wanted to be one of them.”

It is cu­ri­ous that such a shy young man should have the nick­name of “grand­fa­ther”, but he thinks it is funny.

“Ah well, that is how these things hap­pen, but the truth is I am the youngest and hun­gri­est to learn about Spring­bok loose for­ward play, and the more I learn, the more I un­der­stand the role of a Spring­bok loose for­ward in the phys­i­cal con­fronta­tion that in­evitably awaits us.

“All of us have a role to play in shut­ting down the French at­tack,” Oupa says. “We know that they are go­ing to come at us phys­i­cally, much more than last week in Pre­to­ria. My­self, War­ren White­ley and Siya Kolisi are a new loose trio in world rugby, and ob­vi­ously the French have done their home­work on us.

“But at the same time we are do­ing our home­work on our per­for­mance last week,” Mo­hoje con­tin­ued. “As we play more to­gether, we will gel bet­ter, and we will be bet­ter as a unit against the French. They are try­ing to work us out, and we are try­ing to get bet­ter, so it will be an in­ter­est­ing con­test.”

Mo­hoje said that coach Al­lis­ter Coet­zee had en­cour­aged him to carry the ball more to­day.

“Your confidence grows the more you play, and so does your un­der­stand­ing with your fel­low for­wards and the out­side backs that must have an idea of when they are go­ing to get the ball,” the 26-year-old said.

“The coach has told me to at­tack more with the ball in hand. He wants me to be a car­rier, es­pe­cially with (in­jured) Duane Ver­meulen out of the se­ries,” Mo­hoje said. “He wants me and War­ren White­ley to com­bine to­gether more than we have in the past.”

Mo­hoje said that the in­struc­tion from the coach­ing staff was to play the game on Spring­bok terms, and for the team to be proac­tive and not re­spon­sive.

“Al­lis­ter has told us to go out there and play,” he said. “The team cul­ture is dif­fer­ent to last year in that this year we have started afresh and shut the door on last sea­son.

“Pre­vi­ously it was about ev­ery­body hav­ing a say. Now we are all con­tribut­ing to es­tab­lish­ing our own team cul­ture. War­ren White­ley brings a calm­ness to the team and we have all bought into play­ing for each other to get the re­sult that the group so much wants.”

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