“It was bad to play just the one Test (last year). I really didn’t think of myself as a Bok, having played just the once,” said Kwagga Smith. Photo: Willem Loock/BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG – Rookie Springbok loose forward Kwagga Smith said he thought his chance of playing at this year’s World Cup in Japan had come and gone after he’d not got a second look-in following his one Test appearance at the start of last season.

The Lions flank featured in coach Rassie Erasmus’ first Test in charge – a one-off against Wales in Washington last June.

But he didn’t play for the Boks again in 2018, and he said on Monday, after being named in the 31-man World Cup squad, he thought his Bok career was over.

“It was bad to play just the one Test (last year). I really didn’t think of myself as a Bok, having played just the once.

“But I’m so grateful to the coach for giving me another chance this year. It’s awesome being a part of this squad.”

Smith, who covers openside flank and eighthman, is one of five loose forwards in the 31-man squad.

“Every rugby player works so hard to get into a squad like this, but not everyone gets their opportunity.

“It was my dream to play for the SA sevens team and a dream to play at the Olympics, but this is the ultimate,” he said.

Veteran prop Tendai Mtawarira, who’ll feature at his third tournament, said he was ready to make the “pinnacle” of his career count in Japan.

“We fell out in the quarters in 2011 and then the semis last time... it’s just a massive moment to be back here, for my third shot at it,” said the burly prop.

“This is the pinnacle of my career, and I just want to give it my best... give my mind, body and soul to this team.

“We’re a group that’s improving all the time. It’s evolving into something special.”

@jacq_west


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