Bloemfontein – Ashley Johnson showed with his performances in the 2011 Super Rugby tournament that he deserves a spot in the Springbok Rugby World Cup squad.
That was the view of Cheetahs coach Naka Drotské on Saturday night after his loose forward star continued to stake his claim with a lively performance in the 34-44
defeat to the Stormers.
Drostké believes that Johnson has managed to get the inconsistency out of his game.
Johnson was recently rewarded for his good form when he was included in a reduced Springbok squad of 37 players in the build-up to the World Cup.
And with his performance against the Stormers, the flank once again demonstrated why he should be in the plans for New Zealand.
Johnson’s physical presence and high work-rate was clearly visible against a Stormers team full of Springboks. Even after being on the receiving end of one of the biggest tackles of the tournament from Francois Louw in the second half, Johnson was soon involved in play again.
“You have to take your hat off to Ashley and the manner in which he has played the entire season. I had a chat with him when he played well at the beginning of the tournament. I told him that a weakness of his in the past was that he would produce one or two brilliant performances, but then not ‘pitch’ for the next game or two.
“My words to him were that he had to rid himself of that inconsistency if he wanted to become a Springbok and remain a good one. Full marks to him. He has played good rugby week after week and puts his body on the line. He really deserves to be in the World Cup squad,” said Drotské.
Apart from Johnson, Cheetahs wing Rayno Benjamin also showed why Drotské brought him to Bloemfontein.
The Sevens Springbok, who has had little game time due to injuries and a suspension for an alleged headbutt against the Melbourne Rebels, scored a hat-trick of tries and did not put a foot wrong.
Cheetahs centre Robert Ebersohn left the field in the 33rd minute because of sore ankle ligaments. Drotské does not think the injury is too serious.
“It does not look too bad. I think it’s just ligaments. Hopefully he will be ready for the first Currie Cup game. The worst-case scenario is probably that he will be out for four to six weeks,” said Drotské.