Wayde van Niekerk poses with, from left, Elton Jantjies, Siya Kolisi, Tendai Mtawarira and Springbok captain Eben Etzebeth in Bloemfontein on Friday. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix
Wayde van Niekerk poses with, from left, Elton Jantjies, Siya Kolisi, Tendai Mtawarira and Springbok captain Eben Etzebeth in Bloemfontein on Friday. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix
Springbok coach Allister Coetzee shares a few words with 400m Olympic and world champion Wayde van Niekerk on Friday. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix
Springbok coach Allister Coetzee shares a few words with 400m Olympic and world champion Wayde van Niekerk on Friday. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix
Wayde van Niekerk stands in the official Springbok team photograph in Bloemfontein on Friday. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix
Wayde van Niekerk stands in the official Springbok team photograph in Bloemfontein on Friday. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

BLOEMFONTEIN – World 400m champion Wayde van Niekerk handed out the jerseys to the Springbok team on Friday ahead of Saturday’s Rugby Championship match here against Australia.

Van Niekerk, who lives in Bloemfontein and is an old boy of the famous Grey College, handed out the jerseys to the players on Friday morning. He also posed with the team for the official photograph.

“It’s a massive honour for me to be a part of this,” said the man who has taken over from multiple Olympic champion Usian Bolt as the leading male athlete in the world.

“To mix with these guys and rub shoulders with them ... I’m very excited about the weekend.”

Van Niekerk also had a message for Allister Coetzee and his team, who are looking to hit back from taking a 57-0 beating by the All Blacks in New Zealand two weeks ago.

“They must go out there and look to dominate the Wallabies. We need a big bounce-back this weekend. I’m certainly going to be there supporting the guys.”

As a sportsman who now performs on the international stages of the world, Van Niekerk knows a thing or two about events and like many South Africans, he, too, is hoping the country can win the bid to host the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

The winning country will be announced in November, with South Africa seeking to host the tournament for the second time and the first since 1995.

“I’m excited about the 2023 bid,” he said. “As a sportsman, I know what it’s like to have the crowd behind you, and hopefully we can get it again.”

Saturday’s Test in Bloemfontein kicks off at 5.05pm.

 

IOL Sport