Oupa: I was picked on merit

Cape Town - Springbok flank Teboho "Oupa" Mohoje insists he was picked on merit in the Springbok starting team for Saturday's Test against the Wallabies at Newlands.

Mohoje, 24, on Wednesday cracked the nod to start ahead of 71-Test veteran Schalk Burger which prompted speculation about political interference from the South African Rugby Union (SARU).

Mohoje will get his first start for the Springboks after making his debut off the bench against Scotland in June. It has been a fairytale season for the flank, who started playing Varsity and Vodacom Cup rugby before getting his break in Super Rugby after the Cheetahs lost a number of loose forwards to injury.

But questions remain whether his selection was not due to political pressure - after SARU recently confirmed its plans to ensure that by 2019 at least half the Springbok side consists of players of colour, with 60% of those required to be black African.

However, Mohoje says coach Heyneke Meyer ensured him that his selection for Saturday's Test was not for political reasons.

"I was selected here on merit, the coach told me that. He said 'I am selecting you on merit,'" Mohoje was quoted as saying on the Sydney Morning Herald's website.

Mohoje said he will not read too much into it and will do his best to not let it affect him. "You obviously do read (the comments and debate), but you can't take it into your head."

But in the midst of talk of quotas, Meyer was denied he had selected his No 7 in response to political pressure.

In a statement released to the media on Wednesday, the coach said he had the "utmost confidence" in Mohoje to make the step up.

"There's really no pressure. I will pick the guys who I believe are the best. Oupa is more of a traditional blindside flanker who will get another opportunity to show what he can do in his breakthrough season. He has really come on in leaps and bounds this season and responded to the goals set for him," said Meyer.

Kick-off for Saturday's Test is scheduled for 17:05.


South Africa:

15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Jan Serfontein, 12 Jean de Villiers (captain), 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Francois Hougaard, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Teboho Mohoje, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Tendai Mtawarira

Substitutes: 16 Bismarck du Plessis, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Marcel van der Merwe, 19 Bakkies Botha, 20 Schalk Burger, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 JP Pietersen

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