Port Elizabeth - His call-up to the Springbok training camp has put Kings flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis in with a chance of making history by becoming the first player out of the new franchise to be selected for international rugby.
According to the supersport.com website, it is only a training camp he has been called up to, and there are 37 other players and four flyhalves reporting for duty as Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer continues to build-up to the new season in Durban next week. Catrakilis will only be officially recognised as a Bok if he gets selected to play in a Test match.
However, being the first name up on the Kings honours board and the name that will head the list for all time to come is something for the young No 10 to aim at and it certainly justifies his decision to move up the coast from Cape Town during the off-season.
“It’s a dream come true for me, it’s something I’ve been striving towards for the past two years, but ever since I’ve been a kid it’s been a dream of mine, and to eventually be here is a bit surreal,” said Catrakilis through a press release issued by the Kings.
Catrakilis said he was happy with his form this season and was working at further ways to improve his game.
“I’m satisfied with what I’ve done so far, I could always get better and that’s what I am looking to do. I’ve learnt in life that some things come at the right time, and this came at the right time for me and I’m just grateful for the opportunity and had to grab it with both hands.”
The player who may have effectively displaced him at the Stormers and helped him make his decision to move to Port Elizabeth, Elton Jantjies, is also in the Springbok training group, but he’s had a patchy season and there have been many occasions when the Stormers coaching staff must have wished that Catrakilis was still on the Stormers and Western Province books.
The flyhalf first made his name in helping guide UCT to their first ever Varsity Cup title three seasons ago, and then excelled for WP in the Currie Cup. His drop-goals in last year’s domestic final played a big part in Province breaking an 11 year trophy drought in the provincial competition.
Catrakilis said he wanted to move to the Kings on the basis that they could offer him a regular start, which the Stormers couldn’t do, and in that sense he made the right choice, remembering of course that Peter Grant is also still at the Stormers and his just injured at the moment.
Apart from Catrakilis’ big match temperament, which he has shown by slotting some crucial kicks under pressure, including a drop goal off the last move of the game that earned the Kings their first ever win overseas against the Rebels in Melbourne, Catrakilis has displayed great game management. His general play has helped the Kings punch above their weight in their debut season in Super Rugby.
The call-up to the national training group comes soon after Catrakilis completed the achievement of scoring 100 points in his own debut season in Super Rugby, the first South African player in several years to have managed the feat.
The other flyhalves in the training group aside from Catrakilis and Jantjies are Pat Lambie, who could yet find himself at fullback again if Zane Kirchner doesn’t recover from his injury, and Morne Steyn.
Catrakilis is the only Kings player in the Bok training squad but some of the loose forwards must be pushing strongly.
Ryan Kankowski is in the group even though he hasn’t played in a while and has struggled with his conditioning since coming back from Japan, so another performance from Luke Watson like the one that he turned in against the Highlanders might well bring him into the frame.