Bekker: I'm Andries, not Victor
Andries Bekker (File)
Cape Town - Andries Bekker is eager to cement his place in the national team when he takes charge of the Springboks' lineout against Argentina at Newlands on Saturday.
The Boks' brains trust has identified the lineout as the one set-piece that has proved most prolific for setting up try-scoring movements and Bekker has been entrusted with the task of managing it.
Bekker, the tallest player to have donned a Bok jersey at 2.08m, has no qualms about lineout management but his primary focus will be to consolidate his position under coach Heyneke Meyer's watchful eye.
"There's no pressure on me for making the lineout calls because I've done that job for the Stormers for quite a few years now," Bekker said in Cape Town on Wednesday afternoon.
"Saturday's game is my best chance to compete for the Springbok No 5 jersey. With Juandré (Kruger) playing so well this season, it’s going to be tough to start week in and week out.
"Then of course there's Eben (Etzebeth) and Flip (van der Merwe). So there's plenty of competition within the squad, which is always healthy.
"I think that every team you play for, you have to perform, so if you play for the Stormers, Bulls or the Boks, everyone has to perform to stay in the team and to get a start every weekend."
Juandré Kruger had strong claims for inclusion as one of the locks for Saturday's Test, but Meyer opted for Bekker and his Stormers partner Eben Etzebeth.
Meyer said he felt is was good for Bekker to play at his home ground.
"Juandré has really proved himself and I have said to him as well, that this is just giving Andries a chance," Meyer said.
"It sounds tough but I didn't actually drop him, I just want to see what Andries can do and then probably stick with the best guy going forward."
Bekker has also had to constantly deal with comparisons with the now-retired Victor Matfield, regarded as the world's best lineout jumper during his playing days.
"I never wanted to be Victor," said Bekker.
"He was bloody good at what he did during his playing days.
"I guess it is normal to measure me against the guy who played in this position before I did. But I don’t want to be another Victor. I want to be Andries.
"This is the best chance I've got to make a name for myself in the Bok team with Victor no longer in the side."
Bekker's second-row partner Etzebeth has shot to international prominence in just a matter of months.
The 24-Test capped Bekker feels Etzebeth, 20, has a great future ahead of him.
"Last year, Eben was still playing Varsity Cup rugby and now he’s doing well in Super Rugby and for the Boks," he said.
"He's massive and still so young. He’s always up there in support and he's a strong ball-carrier. I believe he will go on and play 100 Tests for South Africa in the future."
15. Zane Kirchner, 14. Bryan Habana, 13. Jean de Villiers (captain), 12. Frans Steyn, 11. Lwazi Mvovo, 10. Morné Steyn, 9. Francois Hougaard, 8. Keegan Daniel, 7. Willem Alberts (The Sharks, 6. Marcell Coetzee, 5. Andries Bekker, 4. Eben Etzebeth, 3. Jannie du Plessis, 2. Bismarck du Plessis, 1. Tendai Mtawarira
Substitutes: 16. Adriaan Strauss, 17. Pat Cilliers, 18. Flip van der Merwe, 19. Jacques Potgieter, 20. Ruan Pienaar, 21. Pat Lambie, 22. JJ Engelbrecht
15 Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino, 14 Gonzalo Camacho, 13 Marcelo Bosch, 12 Santiago Fernandez, 11 Horacio Agulla; 10 Juan Martin Hernandez, 9 Nicolas Vergallo, 8 Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe (captain), 7 Alvaro Galindo, 6 Julio Farias Cabello, 5 Patricio Albacete, 4 Manuel Carizza, 3 Juan Figallo, 2 Eusebio Guinazu, 1 Rodrigo Roncero
Substitutes: 16 Bruno Postiglioni, 17 Marcos Ayerza, 18 Juan Pablo Orlandi, 19 Tomas Leonardi, 20 Leonardo Senatore, 21 Martin Landajo, 22 Martin Rodriguez