JOHANNESBURG – Springbok scrumhalf Cobus Reinach has said his missing out on a World Cup place in 2015 made him work harder to be recognised ahead of this year’s tournament in Japan.
The 29-year-old played 10 Tests for the Boks in 2014 and 2015, but when Heyneke Meyer named his squad for the World Cup four years ago, Reinach lost out to Fourie du Preez, Ruan Pienaar and Rudy Paige.
The disappointment hit him hard, and in 2017, he opted to move from the Sharks to Northampton in England, where he has become one of his team’s and Europe’s star players.
It forced current Bok boss Rassie Erasmus into a rethink after he’d backed Faf de Klerk, Embrose Papier and Ivan van Zyl last season.
Louis Schreuder also got himself into the national pecking order, while in 2017, Ross Cronjé also stood ahead of Reinach in the Bok No 9 queue.
That has, however, all changed in 2019, just months out from the World Cup, with Erasmus backing De Klerk, Reinach and rookie Herschel Jantjies, who started against the Australians last Saturday and scored two tries on debut.
Reinach came off the bench and also got himself a try. He said it had been a long four years to wait to earn an 11th Bok cap.
Cobus Reinach!! A third scrumhalf try for the Boks as they finish off in style at a pumping Emirates Airline Park. Elton Jantjies adds the extras and it's 35-17 for the Boks, what a way to get their season underway! Well done boys! #StrongerTogether #RSAvAUS pic.twitter.com/VuPySH6Q5W— Springboks (@Springboks) July 20, 2019
“Getting a Bok game and scoring a try after four years since my last appearance is a long time,” said Reinach.
“I nearly wanted to cry when we stood there at the start on Saturday, singing the national anthem. Getting the try was the cherry on top.
“I suppose one’s got to fight sometimes when you’ve lost something, and I felt in 2015, something was taken away from me.
“What happened in 2015 was a big disappointment, but in a career, there are always going to be ups and downs, and I wasn’t selected; it happens to all players.”
His move to Northampton, he said, was one of the best things that could have happened to him.
“I took a step back, going overseas, out of my comfort zone, and I had to work harder than before... I didn’t know the players, the structures and other things.
“I do feel though I grew as a player there. I needed to improve my decision-making, mainly because in Europe, the nine and the 10 take charge of the team’s game.
“We also had a young flyhalf, so I had to step up.
“I also knew that if the opportunity came around for me to play for the Boks again, I needed to be ready. It was a long fight (to get back here), but it’s moerse special now that I am.”
While Bok boss Erasmus is likely to go with De Klerk as his first-choice scrumhalf in the match against New Zealand in Wellington this weekend, one of Reinach and Jantjies will sit on the bench.
All three though look to be well on track to be in the squad for the World Cup later this year.@jacq_west