Oupa Mohoje takes a 'step back' from a future Springbok return

Oupa Mohoje. (Gallo Images)
Oupa Mohoje. (Gallo Images)
  • At 29, Oupa Mohoje is hardly out of contention to add to his Springbok caps, but two tough years have made him re-align his priorities. 
  • The 19-cap international, who signed a contract extension this week, is finally ready for a Cheetahs return when competitive rugby re-starts after a serious knee injury. 
  • Franchise coach Hawies Fourie has intimated that Mohoje's future might lie at lock, though the player says he'd be willing to play anywhere.

He started 14 of his 19 Tests and was, upon his appointment as the South Africa 'A' skipper in 2016's series against the English Saxons, even touted as a future Springbok captain.

Yet Oupa Mohoje, prompted by a two-year absence due to a serious knee injury, has understandably put his loftier ambitions on hold for now.

"Yeah, I've had to step back a bit," the Cheetahs stalwart, who this week signed a belated contract extension with the franchise, told Sport24.

"Of course I'll always cherish any Test I play in, but the past two years have made me realise what matters is today. It's about making sure you have everything in place for the present."

By no means does the 29-year-old loose forward suggest that he can't pull a Green and Gold jersey over his head again as he candidly believes he still has five years of competitive rugby in him.

But first he needs to start playing again.

"What matters currently is for me to be 100% ready again. Nothing in my rugby future can be set in motion if I don't step back onto the field," said Mohoje.

"I can't wait to play my first game. It would be so energising, just to realise that one's managed to get through the tough times."

Adding excitement to Mohoje's imminent return is that he can look forward to the challenge of possibly being employed more at lock.

Hawies Fourie, the Cheetahs' head coach, has previously intimated that one of his key men could be shifted to the second row.

Mohoje, who boasts an imposing 1.93m and 112kg frame, is hardly unfamiliar with the position and would add an athletic dimension to the lineout.

As numerous teams continue to illustrate, you don't need to be 2m tall to be a prominent presence in that set-piece.

While it's a challenge that would appeal to him, Mohoje is banking on his versatility as the central franchise aims to kick-start their era under Fourie.

"I've played in all three flank positions and I've had my days at lock, so I'm happy I can provide cover," he said.

"But all I want now is an opportunity. And when I get it, I'm going to use it. If coach Hawies backs me, I'll play anywhere to repay his faith."

READ | Oupa Mohoje: South African rugby needs to stop thinking men don't cry

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