World Cup downer helped to raise my game says Reinach

The Rugby Paper - - News Rugby Championship - ■ By NEALE HAR­VEY

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.”

PIC­TURES: Getty Im­ages

New Saint: South African No.9 Cobus Reinach

Bok 9s: Faf de Klerk, Fran­cois Hougaard, Nic Groom

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