Johannesburg - New New Zealand flyhalf Lima Sopoaga says it’s a dream come true making his debut for the All Blacks against the Springboks.
Following a stellar Super Rugby season with the Highlanders, Sopoaga has been awarded with call-up to the All Blacks side and he will start in the No 10 jersey against the Springboks in Johannesburg on Saturday.
“I don’t think it gets much bigger than this. It’s a dream come true and I’m just looking forward to the challenge,” Sopoaga said at a press conference in Johannesburg on Thursday.
Sopoaga says he’s been welcomed with open arms into the All Blacks environment and won’t be too nervous on Saturday.
“For me, personally, it’s just how you prepare, and all season long I’ve just focused on preparing as well as I can and whatever happens on the weekend, happens.
“I’ll just try to do that and stay relaxed. The boys here are pretty awesome. The coaching staff and management are awesome too. They’re making me feel welcome.”
Sopoaga was the top point scorer in this year’s Super Rugby competition with 191 and played a major role in the Dunedin-based franchise claiming their maiden title in the competition.
The 24-year-old expects Tests rugby to be a step up from Super Rugby, but admits that he’ll take confidence from what he achieved on the domestic front this season.
“At the end of the day I’ve just got to go out and nail (down) my role and everyone else will take care of their own jobs.
“Super Rugby is a bit different from international level, so I guess I’ll find out on the weekend whether I belong or not, but that Super-season was pretty awesome, not only for me personally, but as a team for the Highlanders.
“But yes, I’ve got a lot of confidence in my ability, in what I can do.”
Kick-off for Saturday’s clash is scheduled for 17:05.
15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Handre Pollard, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Schalk Burger (captain), 7 Francois Louw, 6 Heinrich Brussow, 5 Lood de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Tendai Mtawarira
Substitutes: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Trevor Nyakane, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Flip van der Merwe, 20 Warren Whiteley, 21 Cobus Reinach, 22 Pat Lambie, 23 Lionel Mapoe
15 Israel Dagg, 14 Ben Smith, 13 Conrad Smith, 12 Ma'a Nonu, 11 Charles Piutau, 10 Lima Sopoaga, 9 Aaron Smith, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw (captain), 6 Liam Messam, 5 James Broadhurst, 4 Brodie Retallick, 3 Owen Franks, 2 Dane Coles, 1 Tony Woodcock
Substitutes: 16 Codie Taylor, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Ben Franks, 19 Sam Whitelock, 20 Victor Vito, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Beauden Barrett, 23 Malakai Fekitoa