Teboho Mohoje rocks

2014-07-06 15:00

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“It is my challenge and I’m determined to succeed,” said Teboho Mohoje in response to a statement that he had chosen a route full of obstacles to get to the top of his sport.

Mohoje became South Africa’s 858th Springbok when he trotted on to the field in the 66th minute to replace Duane Vermeulen in the test against Scotland at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth last Saturday.

It was pointed out to Mohoje, a strapping lad of 1.97m and 108kg, that as a flank forward, he had ended up in a position renowned as one of South Africa’s strongest.

Not only have the Springboks fielded some of the greatest players in the number 6 and number 7 jerseys, but he is up against a collection – including Schalk Burger, Francois Louw, Willem Alberts, Marcell Coetzee, Siya Kolisi and Heinrich Brüssow – that most countries would long to have.

But the University of the Free State student was unfazed by the suggestion that a bottleneck of top-class breakaways would impede his progress.

“It’s good to be up against the best because that makes you set your goals even higher,” he said.

“Oupa” Mohoje’s rise to being a full international has been meteoric.

At the start of the year, he was captaining the Free State Shimlas in the Varsity Cup (he is studying human movement science) before a spate of injuries in the Cheetahs squad gave him a shot at Super Rugby.

The first black player to captain a Varsity Cup side and named the “player that rocks” in the 2013 season, Mohoje showed he could lift himself into the big leagues.

He drew the spotlight with a sensational try against the Crusaders in which he broke away from a melee, wrong-footed All Black fullback Israel Dagg and outsprinted him to the goal line.

He began playing rugby as a Grade 3 pupil at Fauna Primary School in Bloemfontein – and that is where he earned his nickname, when a teacher saw a grey streak he used to have in his hair and said: “I’m going to call you Oupa.” The moniker has stayed with him all the way to the Springboks.

Mohoje praises his parents Noma and Peter, who work for the department of education in Bloemfontein, for the role they have played in his life, as well as coaches Jaco Swanepoel, Michael Horak, Naka Drotské and Os du Randt.

Unusually, for a young boy wanting to play rugby in Bloemfontein, he decided not to go to Grey College but to Louis Botha High School.

There he played a key role in putting the school, which also produced Raymond Rhule, on the rugby map.

Though he admits the events of the past few weeks have left him feeling a little dizzy and not sure that it all did actually happen, there was confirmation when he turned out for the Cheetahs against the Sharks at Free State Stadium last night.

There, listed on the team sheet, was number 7 Teboho “Oupa” Mohoje* – the asterisk denoting “Springbok”.

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