Brussow: I was always hopeful

Heinrich Brüssow (Gallo Images)
Heinrich Brüssow (Gallo Images)
Johannesburg - South Africa’s talismanic ball terrier, Heinrich Brussow, is back to haunt the All Blacks with his breakdown prowess following his selection for Saturday’s Rugby Championship match at Ellis Park, in Johannesburg.

His return from the Boks wilderness comes a day after celebrating his 29th birthday and he hailed his selection as proof that you cannot keep a good man down.

“It’s been a while, it is always great to be in a Springbok set-up especially getting a chance against a team like the All Blacks and I am looking forward to it,” Brussow said in Johannesburg on Wednesday.

“I was always hopeful, you can’t keep a guy out if he keeps on trying, and it has been four years, so I had a good rest from international rugby.”

Brussow will make his return to the Springbok side for the first time since the 2011 Rugby World Cup quarter-final against Australia where he suffered a rib injury 20 minutes into that match.

In what could form and exciting combination, he will partner with fellow openside flank Francois Louw, who replaced him in that quarter-final.

Added to the equation is stand-in captain and utility loose forward Schalk Burger who will round off the loose trio at the back of the scrum.

Meyer admitted at Wednesday’s team announcement that there was an obvious absence of a big ball-carrying loosie and lineout option.

What the trio lacked in ball-carrying brutes, Meyer said, they made up in slowing down and turning over opposition ball.

This could be a major shift in the Boks’ evolution towards an expansive game should the trio supply South Africa’s exuberant backline with quick ball.

The breakdown area was a point of pride for South Africa in their narrow 24-20 defeat to the Wallabies in Brisbane over the weekend.

And with the Boks going into battle with three loose forwards well versed in the art of the breakdown one can in theory expect South Africa to throw down the gauntlet against the All Blacks.

“They are the best team in the world, and it is a big challenge for us but I think that is what we want, if you want to be the best in the world you have to beat the best,” Brussow said.

“I’ve played with Schalla for a few years now, and playing with Flo for the first time is really exciting, we’ve been in squads together but it is usually either him or me playing.”

Meyer said he had been honest with Brussow over the last three years about what he needed to improve to get back into Bok contention.

“I told him exactly what he needed to work on to get back into the fold and this year he really played some great rugby coming back from Japan,” Meyer said.

“He worked on his speed and he was awesome in Super Rugby. Unfortunately he got injured and he’s playing against one of the best opensiders in the world in Richie McCaw.

“I felt this was the right game to give him a go and see what he can do. He has a very good record against the All Blacks and hopefully he can bring (us) some luck.”

The Bok mentor believed Brussow and Louw could form a formidable combination that would deal with Richie McCaw’s breakdown antics.

“I believe the game will be won and lost at the breakdowns. Richie McCaw is one of the best there for the last 10 years and Heinrich has always played well against him,” Meyer said.

“Francois Louw is also a very good player on the ground, we might lose a bit in the lineouts but what we lose there we will make up for at the breakdowns.

“I am happy for him (Brussow), he worked to get to this point and I expect a good performance from him.”

Brussow believed he has added a few more skills to his repertoire since he started his annual trek to Japan in 2013 where he has been playing for the NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes. 

"The last time I’ve played was a few years ago and I think I’ve picked up more experience throughout the years and I think at this stage of my career I make better decisions," he said.

"I choose my rucks better and I believe I am a better player, more skilful, a bit older so I hope it goes well.

"I’ve had a different experience going to Japan where I saw a few new things and tried a few things and I developed as a player."

He said the pace of the game in Japan would also hold him good stead as the Boks are looking to play a more expansive style of rugby.

"The way they play there is fast, so I had to adapt with a different style and in my second year I really started enjoying myself," Brussow said.

"I had to adapt to the quicker game making better decisions because you have less time and I definitely think it improved my game."

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