Springboks’ Canan Moodie, 20, is in that ‘adulting-so-hard-right-now’ phase as All Blacks lie in wait

Springboks centre Canan Moodie

FILE - Springboks centre Canan Moodie. Photo: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Aug 25, 2023


At 20, Canan Moodie has just begun wading into the “adulting-so-hard-right-now” phase.

Weighing in at 89kg, the lanky Springbok back has all the world’s rugby fields at his feet, with only possibilities to unfurl before him and manifest as destiny.

The word “potential” sits happily on the tongue when referring to the young player, ready for a rush of air to pass through the vocal cords, vibrating at a pleasant frequency and amplitude.

Springbok assistant coach Mzwandile Stick was certainly not afraid to hum the word on Thursday as he described Moodie’s move from wing to midfield for the Boks’ clash against the All Blacks at Twickenham tonight (8.30pm kick-off).

Massive potential

“If I look at the past two seasons working with Canan, we have seen his potential and we have seen what he does at wing.

“People don’t realise that when you play on wing in our system, in our defence, it is probably one of the toughest positions in our system. What he has shown to us in that space, is the great potential of someone who can make good reads.

“To put him in even tighter (at No 13), I think it’s even going to make it better for him. We must look at the potential of the player and the maturity for his age, the decision that he makes – and it shows great potential.

“It is something the coaching staff has always thought about.

Look at his physique and the height that he has got. I think he has what it takes to become one of those great outside centres.

“We know what he can do at wing. If you look at the guy that is playing opposite him, (Rieko) Ioane started playing on the wing, and he is probably one of the best outside centres currently.

“Moodie has that potential. He also has those qualities.”

Moodie’s selection at centre was certainly the talk of the rugby world this past week.

Lukhanyo Am injured forced their hand

The injury to Lukhanyo Am, which ruled him out of the World Cup next month, required the plan to play Moodie in the position.

The Boland Landbou alum played his school rugby there, and it is understood that it is his preferred position.

He will play alongside Andre Esterhuizen in the midfield in an exciting, if somewhat untested backline.

Stick, however, is confident it is a unit that can win matches.

“Looking at a guy like Faf (de Klerk), he has done the job for us. Manie Libbok is probably our best No 10 at the moment playing week-in and week-out,” he said.

“(Esterhuizen) has been coming. Every time he gets an opportunity, he performs for us.

“Kurt-Lee Arendse and (Makazola Mapimpi) have been around and done the job for us. It is also fair for a guy like Damian Willemse to get a fair opportunity at the back. He has been with us for the past five years.”

Perhaps the biggest concern for Bok supporters has been the wayward kicking of flyhalf Libbok, who has been thrust into the hot seat for the World Cup due to Handre Pollard’s non-availability.

Suspect goal- kicking

In the Wales walloping last weekend, Libbok’s success rates at poles was 56%, while against the Pumas across the two Tests it averaged 66%.

“Regarding Libbok,” Stick said, “I wouldn’t call it an issue.

“When you talk about an issue, it sounds like it is something that is not going well. Libbok is doing well for us at No 10.

“He is a very confident player, as you can see through the decisions he makes on the field. For us to put 50 points on Wales away from home, it shows that the people who are driving our game, that they are confident.”