PRETORIA – Forgotten Springbok Marnitz Boshoff will make an emotional return to where it all began for him when he runs out at No 10 for the Blue Bulls in their Currie Cup encounter against Griquas at Loftus Versfeld on Friday night.
The 28-year-old Boshoff returned to the country two weeks ago after spending a year in Ireland playing for Connacht.
And he admits that he still harbours ambitions of playing for the Springboks, to add to his solitary cap, and winning silverware with the Bulls as well.
“It is always a target to get back into the green-and-gold. One will never be enough, and even a hundred will never be enough. But to give myself the best opportunity, I needed to get back to South Africa, and luckily I have that opportunity now,” Boshoff said on Tuesday.
Having left South Africa at the peak of his game and in the colours of the Lions, Boshoff believes that playing in wet and difficult conditions of Europe has helped him grow as a person and rugby player.
“It was a good experience for me. Tough year on and off the field, but it was a good experience, different conditions to play in.
“Obviously playing in rain and cold weather is a bit different to South Africa, so you can just add to your game playing overseas.”
While it was never part of the plan for Boshoff to return to his country of birth a year into his two-year contract with Connacht, the death of his father and limited game time prompted the move back home.
It now sees him get a golden opportunity to prove to himself, the Loftus faithful and the national team coach Allister Coetzee that he still has it.
“It was easy to slot in, obviously it is a big privilege to be back at Loftus. For me, it is about contributing to the team and giving my best.
“So it has been an easy slot-in and I’ve been here before. At the Lions in 2013, we were in the same situation. It’s good to be back, the enthusiasm of the guys is always fun being around, so we’ll see what lies in store for us this Friday,” Boshoff said.
There is no such thing as going back to square one! Even if you feel like you're having to start over,you are trying again with more knowledge,strength and power than you had before! Your journey was never over it was just waiting for you to find it again! #ItsTime #Determined #CFnation
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And there could not have been a more sterner test for Boshoff to prove his worthiness than contributing to an ailing Bulls side that has now lost four games in a row.
They will be looking at starting the second round of the Currie Cup in the same manner they began the first round, with a win against Griquas.
Boshoff believes that change is coming to Loftus, but in order for it to happen, everyone must buy into the game plan and focus on making the team successful instead of individuals.
“It is the team’s decision. Obviously we must buy into the game plan and the way we want to play. Collectively, all the guys are a lot stronger than playing as individuals. If we can all buy into that and create a culture of hard work, then obviously we’ll do good,” said Boshoff.
“Ja, I think definitely, we are putting in the work. People will never see how much we train on the field and how much time we are putting into training.
“Obviously we are trying to put in the best and they must stick with us, because we are building something special here and they must give us some time. You will see on Friday, it will be a better performance.”
The presence of director of rugby and head coach John Mitchell is another positive that Boshoff believes will assist in bringing about the desired turnaround, and it all begins with a change in mindset and being proud of the union they represent.
“It’s good. I think he is a very clever coach and he has good plans and a good mindset. Him taking over is getting the players into a mindset where we can actually be very competitive, and this is not depending on age or anything. It is just about putting on the blue shirt and making it proud.”
Mitchell is set to make wholesale changes to his team, with hooker Edgar Marutlulle and prop Dayan van der Westhuizen likely to start along with Lizo Gqoboka, while Ashton Fortuin is also set to get his first start in Currie Cup rugby in the second row.
Flank Shaun Adendorff is secured a place at openside in place of the injured Boom Prinsloo, while centre Johnny Kotze will make his first start, with Mitchell also opting for new wings in Duncan Matthews and Sibahle Maxwane.