WATCH: Nice to talk some Afrikaans and throw the ball around, says Johan Goosen after Bulls win
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CAPE TOWN - AFTER Jake White heaped praise on him, Johan Goosen had a tough task in trying to prove his coach right at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday – and it was his debut at flyhalf for the Bulls on top of it.
And it wasn’t any old game. While there were no competition points up for grabs, the entire Springbok management team was watching as part of the South Africa A set-up.
Having played his last Test in 2016 against Wales, Goosen – who turns 29 on July 27 – will be keen to resurrect his Test career now that he is back in South Africa, having earned just 13 caps so far, with White saying beforehand that he was “incredibly surprised” that he hasn’t played 50 Tests.
So the stage was set, and boy, did he deliver. The former Cheetahs stalwart made a solid start, and although he missed touch from a penalty in the first half, that booming boot soon came into effect as he won territory for the Bulls.
As the game went on, Goosen was far from your ‘traditional’ South African No 10. He tried odd passes, little chips over the top and attacked the gain-line to bring variety to the Bulls backline.
But it seemed as if White timed an ‘ambush’ to perfection, as it was almost only in the final quarter that they started playing with greater flair, having used their forwards mainly to disrupt the SA A set-piece, while there were a number of handling errors as well.
Goosen then broke the game open with a sizzling break in the 66th minute as he came out of nowhere by running on to a Ruan Nortje pass and cut through the SA A defence, and fed Keagan Johannes on his inside to make it 14-7.
Not long afterwards, with the Bulls stuck in their 22, Goosen stepped past Kwagga Smith and offloaded in the tackle to a flying Muller Uys, with the flank finding David Kriel, who passed to FC du Plessis – and the youngster pulled off a sensational chip to the inside for Johan Grobbelaar to catch and score.
Bulls flyhalf Johan Goosen reacts to the their victory against the South Africa 'A' side, playing a crucial role in both tries as he is given the man of the match award. pic.twitter.com/bk22lED4US— SuperSport 🏆 (@SuperSportTV) July 17, 2021
It was vintage Goosen, and he was chosen as the Man of the Match.
“I’ve just come to the Bulls, but I can see that there is a real brotherhood and there are no big heads. The guys just play for each other, and it’s really a privilege for me to be at the Bulls,” he told SuperSport in a post-match TV interview.
“The goal was to beat them, obviously, as we play to win. But the forwards really stepped it up and we played really well.
“It’s just nice for me to be back, and the whole team played so well. They made it easy for me at 10, but I must say it’s nice for me to be back, talk some Afrikaans and throw the ball around a bit!”
The Bulls are here to play! 👏— SuperSport 🏆 (@SuperSportTV) July 17, 2021
Johan Goosen is putting on a show, how good is this from Jake White's men who go coast to coast! 14-14 after 68 minutes.
📺 Stream live: https://t.co/0BMWdeEYT3 pic.twitter.com/KsXlEkukKu
Bok coach Jacques Nienaber was caught in an awkward situation at the post-match press conference when he was asked what he thought about Goosen’s performance, as he had SA A captain and flyhalf Elton Jantjies alongside him.
Nienaber first side-stepped the question by saying that the Bulls had played well to win, instead of talking about Goosen.
Later on he was quizzed again about the Bulls flyhalf, and said: “I didn’t sidestep it – I thought he was good. I said I thought the Bulls team were good. All of them played very well. Johan, he is a classy player and I thought his performance was good.
“But when I look at it, I probably looked at our players more than their players. If you ask me now how much did he kick and where did he kick too, I didn’t watch it and didn’t look at that at all.
“How many times he carried the ball or passed the ball, how was his distribution… When they’ve got the ball, I’m looking at our defence and vice versa, so I don’t even know if he made a tackle or not.
“I will have the answers in more detail when we go through a proper review after the game. I hope I didn’t come across as wanting to sidestep it, but in general, I thought he was good on the day, if I have to comment from a high view.”
White again said afterwards that he thinks Goosen will get back into the Bok set-up at some stage, and following his performance on Saturday, one wonders how quickly that will happen – especially with Handre Pollard still not cleared to play in Saturday’s first Test against the British and Irish Lions at Cape Town Stadium.