Nelspruit - After 10 months watching idly from the sidelines, hooker Bismarck du Plessis is set to be thrust back into the limelight for the Springboks against Scotland in Nelspruit on Saturday.
Du Plessis, included on the bench, said this week he would do anything in his power to reclaim the number two jersey for both the national side and his province.
“In rugby you only have so many games to play. You can’t pick and choose the games,” Du Plessis said.
“I’ve got the opportunity to play this weekend and I am going to push for a place wherever I am.
"Whether at the Sharks or at the Springboks, I am going to push for a place to start.”
He conceded, however, that it would be a difficult task to challenge incumbent Bok hooker Adriaan Strauss and Chiliboy Ralepelle, who have both been in superb form this season, for the number two jersey.
“Competition is always a good thing, and if there is no competition you rest on your laurels,” Du Plessis said.
“Adriaan is playing good rugby and Chili has been playing exceptional rugby for the Bulls, and I want to get back into the Sharks 22 and to push for a place in the Springbok side again.”
Du Plessis’ inclusion on the bench this weekend comes at the cost of Ralepelle, who would feel hard done by the move after a stellar Super Rugby season.
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer suggested at Wednesday’s team announcement that Ralepelle’s move to France, after taking up a contract with Toulouse, was partly responsible for his drop out of the match-day 23.
“Bismarck was probably the best hooker in the world before he got injured, and Adriaan Strauss got a chance and he played well,” Meyer said.
“I had a hard chat with Chiliboy and he is playing his best rugby. I want to see what Bismarck can do after 20 minutes and going forward we need to pick the best hookers.
“It is unfortunate that Chili is going overseas. I’ve always said if it is a 50/50 decision, we will go with the guy in South Africa.”
Meyer said earlier in the week that Du Plessis had been cleared by the medical team after he played 240 minutes of club rugby.
The Bok coach also said, however, that he would not use Test rugby as a platform for players to return to form, and again emphasised he was loyal to form players and not to individuals.
“I never want to use a Test match to get a guy to get to his best form," Meyer said.
"A player should play in Super Rugby or Currie Cup to get back to his best form, especially if there is a player that’s played out of his skin.”
And while Du Plessis has not played any first-class rugby for nearly a year, he was adamant he would make his presence felt if he took to the field on Saturday.
“I would have liked to be able to play Super Rugby or Vodacom Cup or any first-class rugby," he said.
"I could get the opportunity to play for the Springboks over the weekend, and if I get a minute I will try to fit 80 minutes into one minute.
"It is very exciting to be back and I am very privileged to wear the green and gold again.”