I want to learn as much as possible, says Wandisile Simelane ahead of Lions series
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JOHANNESBURG – Wandisile Simelane's greatest dream is to don the Green and Gold and play for the Springboks one day, and it would seem that that day is quickly approaching.
The former Baby Bok was named in the 46-man Bok squad to prepare for the British and Irish Lions tour next month this past Saturday, and if the summation of pundits and supporters bears any truth, then his international debut could be as early as July 10 against Georgia. Nonetheless, the 23-year-old fully understands that making the matchday 23 is an honour and not a right, and while he is eager to play for the Boks, he remains mindful of the opportunity that coach Jacques Nienaber has now presented him.
"To represent the Springboks in any Test you need to," he said, "firstly, be very good and you just need to keep on improving.
"My attack must keep on improving, my defence must keep on improving, my kicking game, my technical abilities, so none of those are the finished product just yet and I need to keep on improving in every aspect of my game to eventually reach my goal or make my Springbok debut.
The Lions outside-centre was 11 when last the BI Lions toured the country in 2009 – an age when he had only first started taking an interest in rugby, and while his head was still full of dreams of becoming a professional footballer. Even so, the magnitude of the tour has not escaped his grasp, nor what will be required from the Boks to beat the tourists.
"I was very young (in 2009) but I have watched a lot of clips of that tour," Simelane explains.
"So, it is not exactly what I remember but rather what I have seen in interviews. The other day I watched interviews with Jacque Fourie, Fourie du Preez and John Smith and they were explaining how brutal and physical and how much intensity the games had. I was also fortunate enough to chat to Morne Steyn and Frans Steyn, who were also involved in the 2009 series, and they also said it is brutal, physical and the intensity is at a very high level, which excites me.
"As a rugby player you want to challenge yourself against the best and the BL Lions they are on the top, top, top there."
Simelane also realises that there is an unique chance to further improve himself as a player, regardless of whether he does play for the Boks, when he enters the national camp in Bloemfontein from Sunday onwards. Previously, the No 13 formerd part of the two Bok alignment camps held earlier this year, and the knowledge he gleaned from those occasions has been invaluable.
Said Simelane: "I'm looking most forward to learning from the guys, to being a sponge and learning as much as possible from all the experienced guys around me.
"And definitely also enjoying my time" he continued. "I just want to make sure I learn and have the utmost fun while I am there because nothing can last forever, and if my opportunity does come, grab it with both hands.
"The one week I spent with Frans Steyn in the green and gold was amazing, so I am looking forward to spending more time with all those amazing guys and learning from them and making sure I come out of the camp as a better player than when I walked in there.
"I am very excited," he concluded.