Boks on Tour
Maku values Bok experience
Bandise Maku (Gallo Images)
Johannesburg - Bandise Maku will make the best of his "priceless experience" in the Springbok rugby camp whether he gets to play or not, he said on Friday.
"To be part of Bok setup, gaining experience, is an honour and it will always be when you consider that it is an environment where you are learning from some of the best players in the world," he said.
The former Blue Bulls hooker, who recently joined the Lions, was informed on Wednesday that he had been selected to be a part the national squad and would link-up with his team mates on Sunday.
His late inclusion is a result of the positive tests for a banned substance of Springboks Chiliboy Ralepelle and Bjorn Basson after the tour opening match against Ireland. Ralepelle and Basson have since been sent home.
Springbok coach Peter de Villiers decided the team needed Maku in case something happened to regular hooker Bismark du Plessis or his new replacement option Adriaan Strauss.
Maku earned his first Test cap earlier this year against Italy in Witbank, but was also part of the mid-week squad that toured Europe last year.
As any other player who has worn the Springbok jersey, he was hooked after that first bite in Mpumalanga.
Last year’s trip to Europe also taught the Border-bred frontrower a thing or two about scrumming, which he is unlikely to forget any day soon.
"Over there they put a lot more emphasis on scrumming and that is why it is great to see that we [the Springboks] are dominating at the scrums and line-outs at the moment," said Maku.
His previous European experience showed him what being a Springbok is all about. On that tour the Bok pack struggled, and this was reflected in poor results.
This time around, Maku's frontrow colleagues have not given an inch in the first two Tests and he is excited to join them.
"The guys are showing why it is so important to be switched on for battle up front, so hopefully I can do the same if I get that chance," he said.
Being the rugby hungry player he is, Maku is keen to learn in conditions where scrummaging is an art.
"I think as a player there are always things that you would like to improve on and there is no better place of learning than playing in conditions where they take scrumming very seriously," he said.
Asked how it felt to be only the second Lions player in the Boks setup of 30 players Maku said: "I haven’t really thought of it in that way.
"But, I guess it is a boost for the Lions because whatever experience I gain there is bound to come in handy next year."
The Lions started training this week after a month’s rest.
Maku said he -- like many of his new team mates -- started hitting the gym two weeks ago, but that even the fittest of players could never be fully prepared for Test rugby.
"I think you will never be too sure that you are ready until you get there.
"Those guys are tested physically and mentally every week and the key will be to adapt as soon as possible and to see where I can contribute to the team."
Like the Boks, who are currently experiencing the freezing conditions in Scotland, Maku would not be drawn about the team’s potential to accomplish the Grand Slam.
He was fairly confident they have what it takes to beat the Scottish.
"The team has performed well under pressure and I can’t see any reason why they won’t do the same on Saturday."