Jaco Taute (Gallo Images)
Johannesburg - Three years after making his professional debut in the Currie Cup as a teenager for the Golden Lions, Jaco Taute could finally make his first appearance for the Springboks against Australia this weekend.
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer has made no secret about it that he is a great fan of Taute.
The 21-year-old has been in Meyer’s plans since he took over as national coach, but a shoulder injury in the Lions’ match against the Western Force at the end of May kept him out of contention until he recently made his return in the Currie Cup.
Taute on Tuesday said he was nevertheless surprised when he was called up for Springbok duty after the Golden Lions’ Currie Cup match against the Sharks on Saturday.
“I only found out after the game from coach Ackers (Lions interim coach Johan Ackermann) and it caught me totally offside,” Taute said.
“I was in the previous Bok camps and I talked to Heyneke and I knew I would be in the structures.
“But it will always be a surprise, I nearly burst out into tears when I heard it.
“It is every young boy’s dream in South Africa to represent the Springboks and that is so important to represent the country as well as you can.”
The talented youngster has made his debut for the Lions at flyhalf months after he played Under-18 Craven Week in 2009 and has developed into one of the country’s best fullbacks.
He further showed his versatility by slotting comfortably into the centre position for his franchise at Super Rugby and Currie Cup level.
Taute, however, said he had no special preference between being the last line of defence or playing in the midfield.
“I’m comfortable at fullback and at centre,” Taute said.
“Luckily I started as a fullback, but I played centre during Super Rugby and that is one of the best competitions in the world.
“That helped me to gain experience in the midfield and I feel very comfortable there and luckily in the Springbok squad you’ve got great senior players that can help you and that can carry you through very tough situations.”
He is a skilful footballer that possesses strength, speed and he has a massive kicking boot.
While his rise in the rugby ranks has been meteoric, Taute had his fair share of setbacks with the shoulder injury keeping him out of the Bok side.
“Especially after a frustrating Super Rugby season getting injured on our last game on tour, it was a very downing moment for me,” he said.
“That happens in sport and it is how you deal with it and I just worked hard on my rehab to come back a better, stronger, faster person.
“I can’t wait to represent the team and contribute where I can.”
While Taute could make his Springbok debut this weekend, he has had only a few days to come to grips with the culture and calls.
“It will never be easy to learn the calls, but the management and players around you make it easy for you so that isn’t an issue,” Taute said.
“Nothing compares to playing for the Boks.
“Every team has their own culture but here there is much more responsibility and I’ll just have to make that step up.”