Luke Watson's toughest opponent tomorrow will be his own team-mates, who aren't prepared to accept his selection as a Test player.
Watson is set to be initiated as a Test player after his debut against Samoa on Saturday, but the sacred rugby induction could provide another twist as the country's senior players strike against political interference in Springbok selection.
Watson originally was not included in the Bok squad, but South African Rugby Union president Oregan Hoskins added his name to the squad. Bok coach Jake White was then forced to select him against Samoa.
The senior players have no platform to express their opinion, other than at the initiation ceremony. It is believed the players will show their objection to the manner in which Watson was selected by not inducting him.
The Daily News also learned that Watson does not want to be initiated. The player, when contacted to confirm this, did not respond to the query. Watson, who was named to start against Samoa on Saturday, was unrepentant when asked to comment on his public criticism of White, Bok and Sharks captain John Smit and the Springbok team of 2006.
He told a magazine that White had no integrity, questioned the credentials of Smit and said there was no pride and passion in the Boks. Now he will face those same players and White in tomorrow night's initiation.
It promises to be explosive, although Watson maintained in media interviews earlier in the week that he stood by what he said a year ago in the magazine article.
The word within the Bok camp this week is that politicians may be able to insist on a player's selection, but they can't control whether his teammates accept him.
Springbok manager - and Watson family friend - Zola Yeye will be present at the initiation ceremony, but he will be unable to influence anything that may happen.
For those not familiar with the Bok initiation protocols, the induction is player-run and player-dominated. Management attends as a senior player courtesy, but management has no say over proceedings.
That includes the coach, whose only responsibility is presenting the newly capped player with his code of conduct after which the player recites the code of conduct to his team-mates.
Included in the code of conduct is a promise not to discredit or insult a Springbok teammate. The senior players, by way of Test caps, control the induction.
Smit, criticised by Watson, is among those senior players.There is often a mixture of light-hearted ridicule and praise, but in my three years of witnessing the initiations there was never any malice shown towards the new players.