Wellington - The Springboks’ injury woes at lock has resulted in a call-up for former Sharks second-rower Gerhard Mostert who, on Monday, described his addition to South Africa’s Tri-Nations’ squad as a big surprise.
Mostert did train with the Boks before they left for the overseas leg of their Tri-Nations campaign but he was deemed surplus to requirements.
But injuries to Johann Muller (hamstring) and Flip van der Merwe (ribs) meant that the 26-year-old Mostert received a call on Saturday telling him that his country needed him.
The imposing lock, who stands six foot six inches tall, had just arrived in Paris where he had signed a two-year contract with French club side Stade Francais but he had no hesitation hopping on the first available plane and is now in line to win his first cap against the All Blacks in Wellington on Saturday.
“I was in Paris for five days, settling in, and I had most of my attention there getting to know the guys and then I got the call. It was a big surprise to me because I didn’t expect it at all and I got on the first plane to get here,” he smiled.
For such a big man Mostert speaks very softly and calmly, belying his fearsome performances on the field and the 26-year-old, who has battled a series of shoulder injuries which threatened to derail his career over the last two years, is just glad that he is able to take to the field.
“Making the Boks was never my top priority. I was just focussed on playing good rugby and getting over my injuries so the Bok call-up was actually a bonus and reward for all the hard work and rehab,” he explained.
Mostert’s former Sharks team-mate, and now Springbok team-mate, eighthman Ryan Kankowski said he is confident that Mostert will make a big impact for South Africa.
“I loved playing with him at the Sharks and towards the end of the Super Rugby season he was playing like a machine. I’m happy he’s here and what an opportunity for him,” Kankowski enthused.
“He’s a physical player that demolishes rucks. He’s one of those guys you want on your side,” he added.
Kankowski’s comments elicited a chuckle from Mostert.
“I think he is exaggerating a bit but I will do my best. At this level everyone destroys rucks!” said Mostert.
The former Rustenburg High School pupil said that he hasn’t played in a while but he was confident he was up for the challenge of playing test match rugby.
“I played pretty nicely in the last few games of the Super 15 and picked up a bit of form and all my old niggles weren’t a problem. I feel good at the moment, I haven’t played in a while but once you take a bit of contact you are back in the game,” he explained.
“I think my first job is to do the basic job that a lock is expected to do. Get to the breakdown, hit rucks, hurt a few people. If you do that I don’t think there is any need to do anything flashy,” he concluded.