The young and the old: Springbok squad newbies soak in Bok experience after gruelling URC

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Deon Fourie at a Springbok training session. (Photo by Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images)
Deon Fourie at a Springbok training session. (Photo by Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images)
  • Old and young Springbok squad newbies took their chance to shine in the media spotlight on Thursday.
  • The peculiar but refreshing changing room format used at the meet and greet allowed the players to sit with the media.
  • The 43-man Springbok squad for the Wales Test series is teeming with young talent among the wise heads in the group.

The young and older Springbok squad newbies had quite the smooth, yet also disconcerting entry into their media duties at the meet and greet gathering in Pretoria on Thursday.

The likes of Deon Fourie may have been around the block, but the excitement of being in a Bok squad ahead of a Test series never gets old.

At 35, most of Fourie's age-mates are putting themselves to pasture. Indeed, the ace fetcher in his era, Heinrich Brussow, retired from rugby nearly three years ago.

Fourie, whose face has partially recovered from the three consecutive ruck wars that played a crucial role in the Stormers claiming the United Rugby Championship title on Saturday, said he felt his age in his legs this week.

"We train a bit harder here and I definitely felt it in the legs. It wasn't even the hardest day of the week," Fourie said to warm laughter in the audience.

"It's a privilege to work with all of these guys and all of these awesome players. You just seem to work harder."

The other uncapped players in the squad were opposing eighthmen Elrigh Louw and Evan Roos, up-and-coming loosehead prop Ntuthuko Mchunu and hard-working lock Salmaan Moerat.

Louw may have come second best last week in the No 8 battle against Roos in last week's final, but he put that in the back of his memory bank to focus on the lessons from Bok captain Siya Kolisi and Kwagga Smith.

"Being able to learn from some of the guys like Siya and Kwagga is a great opportunity to have," Louw said.

"However, there's still a lot to learn, but I'll use the time that I have here very well, while I feel like the URC is a great stepping stone from a learning perspective."

The fact that Mchunu has found his way into the Bok group despite the plethora of loosehead props speaks volumes of his accelerated development.

Like one Tendai 'Beast' Mtawarira, Mchunu was an explosive loose forward who converted into a prop.

Mchunu's franchise, the Sharks, exited in the URC quarter-finals at the hands of the Bulls, but he was happy to be in the Bok camp.

"The Sharks may have lost in the quarter-finals, but we got to that stage and that was a good thing," Mchunu said.

"It's been a good time here and I have learned so much by being here in the past two and a half weeks. It has been eye-opening."

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