Rugby Championship

Flo opens up on 'club v country' struggles

2017-09-28 07:00
Francois Louw (Getty)

Cape Town - Francois Louw is back and ready to help close the gap on the All Blacks, but he admits that he still finds himself torn between club and country. 

The 32-year-old will earn his first Springbok cap of the year, and 53rd overall, when he wears the No 7 jersey in Saturday's Rugby Championship clash against the Wallabies in Bloemfontein. 

Louw was called up by coach Allister Coetzee following the injury that ruled Jaco Kriel out of the 57-0 loss to the All Blacks in Albany two weekends ago. 

At 32, Louw will bring a much-needed element of experience to the Springboks during these troubled times. 

But while Coetzee and South Africa are set to benefit, Louw's English club Bath will be without one of their key players for Sunday's Aviva Premiership clash at Wasps. 

Louw has been at Bath since 2011 and the club has become family to him in that time. Turning his back on them to answer the Springbok call has not been easy.

A report surfaced last week in the Bath Chronicle in which Louw was quoted as saying that he was "torn" between Bath and the Boks. 

When probed on that issue in Bloemfontein on Thursday, Louw provided more of an insight into what his struggles were.

"The reality is that I definitely am torn between the two," he acknowledged.

"My club means a lot to me over there. It's the first time I've been able to spend a pre-season with the guys and contribute from the start of a season.

"I'm feeling really good. It's the first pre-season I've had in six years. I had shoulder surgery after the last Premiership game last year causing me to be unavailable for France and the first part of the Championship, but on the other side of that it's given me a chance to really prepare well physically and get a good pre-season under my belt and get my body in shape. I've felt really good in my first three games for Bath."

Despite Louw clearly feeling like he is letting his club down, he praised the Bath management for never standing in his way when it came to representing the Boks. 

The only overseas-based player in Saturday's Bok squad, Louw has been involved with the national side every year since 2010.

"The highlight of my career is playing for the Springboks," he said.

"It's always going to come first for me and my club has been great over the last seven seasons, allowing me to represent my country.

"Even though it is a World Rugby regulation to release players, there is no bitterness there. I'm sure they'd much rather have me there this weekend playing against Wasps, which is a big game for us.

"But the fact that they allow me to go in such a positive manner makes a big difference in my playing perspective coming into the Springboks. I come here with a happy heart and an excitement to play for the Boks."

Right now, Louw must be fully focused on the task at hand, which is getting the Boks back to winning ways. 

He has missed the whole international season so far, but is not feeling any added pressure heading into Saturday.

"There is always pressure coming into the Springboks. There is always a high expectancy for us to win," he said.

Louw's inclusion sees Siya Kolisi move to No 7, while Uzair Cassiem will continue at No 8.

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South Africa

15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Dillyn Leyds, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Uzair Cassiem, 7 Francois Louw, 6, Siya Kolisi, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Eben Etzebeth (captain), 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Tendai Mtawarira

Substitutes: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Trevor Nyakane, 19 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 20 Jean-Luc du Preez, 21 Rudy Paige, 22 Handre Pollard, 23 Damian de Allende


15 Israel Folau, 14 Marika Koroibete, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Kurtley Beale, 11 Reece Hodge, 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Will Genia, 8 Sean McMahon, 7 Michael Hooper (captain), 6 Jack Dempsey, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Izack Rodda, 3 Sekope Kepu, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 Scott Sio

Substitutes (from): 16 Stephen Moore, 17 Tom Robertson, 18 Allan Alaalatoa, 19 Rob Simmons, 20 Lukhan Tui, 21 Ned Hanigan, 22 Nick Phipps, 23 Samu Kerevi, 24 Henry Speight


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