World Cup downer helped to raise my game says Reinach
COBUS Reinach has revealed how his disillusionment with South African rugby in the wake of a spirit-sapping omission from the Springboks’ 2015 World Cup squad led to him eventually joining Northampton and putting his Test hopes on hold.
Scrum-half Reinach, 27, looked as good as on the plane to England two years ago after featuring for South Africa in the Rugby Championship, only for then-head coach Heyneke Meyer to have a change of heart and select uncapped Rudy Paige instead.
Despite starring for the Sharks, Reinach has not been selected since and he is now one of four top-class South African No.9s operating in the Premiership, along with Faf de Klerk (Sale), Francois Hougaard (Worcester) and Saints teammate Nic Groom. Reinach told The Rugby
Paper: “There are a few quality nines here and it tells you a lot about the uncertainty in South African rugby right now.
“Personally, what happened to me in 2015 was a big blow and it was definitely part of my eventual decision to move.
“I had a good feeling that I was going to that World Cup and at the last minute plans changed.
“That would be a huge disappointment for any player, to plan on going to a World Cup and then not be selected, but you have to move on and when I look back at that whole experience now I think it actually helped me to grow as a player.
“I’ve played pretty well for a Sharks side that reached the Super Rugby knock-out stages and with everything that’s going on in South Africa, it’s now time for a new adventure with Northampton, which will be a great experience as well.”
Reinach’s end goal is a return to South Africa colours at Japan 2019, with the ten-cap pivot adding: “The ‘30-cap’ rule makes me unavailable to be picked before 2019, but in a World Cup year they can pick anyone and I’ll make sure I’m ready.
“Playing for South Africa is a huge privilege so if I’m playing well for Northampton, any time they want me I’ll be available. With Rassie Erasmus coming back to the Springboks there will be a lot of positive things coming out of that.”
Reinach’s first port of call is Northampton and he is delighted to be firing a much improved backline in tandem with compatriot Nic Groom.
“Nic’s a great player and the competition brings out my best,” Reinach said.
“Saints had a tricky start against Saracens, but to come back the way we have is satisfying and we’re playing some really good rugby. We’ve focussed on defence, but with ball in hand it’s all-out attack and we’re scoring lots of tries.
“I feel I can bring a bit of x-factor and it’s been great to see guys like George North and Tom Collins hitting form out wide.
“We need a big season and we’ve given ourselves a platform, so now it’s about building on that confidence.”
New Saint: South African No.9 Cobus Reinach
Bok 9s: Faf de Klerk, Francois Hougaard, Nic Groom