Gqoboka inspired by Bok experience

2015-01-15 08:54
Lizo Gqoboka (Gallo Images)

Port Elizabeth - EP Kings prop Lizo Gqoboka says he has made the necessary changes on and off the field after the lessons learned during his time with the Springboks last year.

Gqoboka was one of the standout performers for the Kings in 2014, and was rewarded with invites to train with the Springboks during the Rugby Championship and before the end-of-year tour to Europe.

This was a massive moment for the Mount Frere local, who only started playing rugby after school, and fuelled his ambition to become a Springbok in the near future.

During his time with the national squad, the 24-year-old got the opportunity to be roommates with one of his rugby heroes, Springbok and Sharks prop Beast Mtawarira.

Gqoboka said Mtawarira's advice helped him make the necessary adjustments to achieve his main goal.

"I definitely want to become a Springbok. One day, I want to be part of the Amabokoboko!" Gqoboka told "The Springboks have an amazing environment, and I felt welcomed by all the players. There were so many experienced players to learn from, but I really enjoyed my time with Beast.

"He plays in the same position, and has been a consistent performer at the highest levels over the years. He was very helpful and always went out of his way to help me when needed. The main lesson learned was to pick up positive daily habits, which will create my path to become a Springbok... to become a Springbok and remain a Springbok.

"I learned that on and off the field, I need to work hard, remain humble and to be disciplined. I have already changed my diet plan and I'm training hard to improve my fitness and conditioning."

With these positive changes, Gqoboka is excited about the season ahead. The EP Kings will have one more season to prepare for their return to Super Rugby in 2016.

"We have two tough domestic competitions ahead of us, and we need to prove ourselves," said Gqoboka. "We will be gunning for the Vodacom Cup title. Once that is over, we will shift our focus to making the Currie Cup playoffs.

"While it wasn't a highly successful Currie Cup campaign last year, it was an amazing experience. In that first game against Western Province, we had a young squad, with nine players making their Premier Division debuts. We now know what to expect.

"We will rely on the experience of guys like Luke Watson, Ronnie Cooke, CJ van der Linde and Edgar Marutlulle. (Head coach) Carlos Spencer has also been amazing. He has set his structures, but he allows us the freedom to make our own choices within those structures. He backs us and trusts our abilities to do the job on the field.

"If we can fix the mistakes we made last season, and learn from them, we can achieve our goals in 2015 and be well-prepared for Super Rugby."

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