JOHANNESBURG - Ruan Combrinck says he has a burning desire to win back a place in the Springbok team for the Rugby Championship starting in August.
The 27-year-old Lions winger only recently returned to action after undergoing a shoulder operation late last year, but in only a handful of appearances so far this year, he has shown he is ready to make that step-up again.
After playing a few games in the SuperSport Challenge, he scored a sensational try within 90 seconds of returning to the Super Rugby side on May 20, against the Bulls at Ellis Park.
It was the first of two tries for the winger that day as the Lions ran out comfortable 51-14 winners.
Combrinck’s first try was scored in the same corner where he scored on Springbok debut in June last year, to help save the day for the Boks.
Unfortunately, the June international break halted his progress recently, but he turned out for the SA “A” side against the French Barbarians in the last month and says he is ready for big-time rugby again.
“It’s been an emotional period for me, a few things have happened in my life which are not nice things to have to go through,” he said in the build-up to today’s Super Rugby match against the Sunwolves at Ellis Park.
“My best friend’s dad passed away, my gran nearly passed away, my cousin passed away it’s not nice going through these things, but I suppose they also help build one’s character, make one a stronger person.
“On top of that I’m coming back from a serious shoulder injury.
“It’s not for us to ask why these things happen, but what’s important is how we deal with it.
“I’m still young though, and right now it just feels like everything is off my shoulders ... everything is in the right place again.”
That’s good news for the Lions as they head towards the Super Rugby play-offs, but also for the Boks, who could do with a dose of the Combrinck magic in the coming months.
That’s not to say Raymond Rhule, who wore the No14 on his back against France recently, did a bad job; just that with a fit Combrinck around the competition in the squad is stronger and that’s never a bad thing.
The 27-year-old says he’s excited about the coming weeks.
“I’ve had a few games now (since the injury) and in a very happy space.
“The guys have come back from the Springboks with a new energy and it feels different this time it feels special and we’re hopefully going to capitalise on that.
“I’m very excited.”
And getting that Bok jersey back?
“We’re a passionate country so getting it back won’t be easy.
“JP Pietersen told me after the last Test last year that I should never take the jersey for granted, that you never know when it’s going to be your last game especially because every year there are new guys, new talent, coming through.
“If that fire inside you (to play for the Boks) isn’t there, then you might as well go and do something else. It’s burning inside me.”
The pressure’s on the seven-Test winger to win back his place, but then performing under pressure has always been one of Combrinck’s hallmarks.
“From when I was a small boy, I’ve enjoyed it when the pressure’s been on. My mom’s the same, so I probably inherited that from her.
“It’s why we live, isn’t it? If everything came easily, everyone would do it.
“I enjoy the pressure, the big stage.”