Cape Town - The selection of Garth April was as surprising as any in Allister Coetzee's first Springbok squad.
The 24-year-old was playing club rugby in Cape Town just a year ago and when he was given a lifeline by the Sharks, he took it in the knowledge that the Currie Cup would likely be his platform in 2016.
But an injury to Pat Lambie opened the Super Rugby door for the young flyhalf, and it didn't take long for April to outshine the seasoned Joe Pietersen and move into the No 10 jersey in Lambie's absence.
April has just eight Super Rugby caps to his name, but that was enough to convince Coetzee.
It is a selection that signifies the new Bok coach's commitement to progress - not just in terms of transformation, but in backing young talent.
While it may appear brave from Coetzee on the surface, April's call-up also contributes immensely to the feeling of this being a new Springbok era.
It is unlikely that he will play against Ireland - Eltoin Jantjies is expected to be fit while Pat Lambie is in the running for the captaincy - but April is set to gain valuable experience over the next month.
"Garth April showed tremendous composure when he was
chucked into the deep end playing against Toulon overseas," Coetzee said, recalling the Sharks' pre-season tour to France at the beginning of the year.
"He is one of those
flyhalves who can really take it to the line and he also has a good kicking game.
"I like the way Garth has shown composure as a youngster in top games."
Coetzee added that April's lack of experience should not be seen as a concern, but as an opportunity.
shouldn’t be scared to expose your young flyhalves to this level early," he said.
New Zealand do it and bring a (Lima) Sopoaga to Ellis Park and they play against the
Boks and win the Test, then it’s great for the New Zealanders.
"This boy (April) has got
the ability to do it and I was never going to select an overseas-based 10 to be
a third-choice flyhalf.
"That’s how serious we are at SA Rugby to make sure that
we do give our younger players opportunity to come through."
Coetzee said that April's form in Super Rugby demontrated a skill set that fits the mould of the type of flyhalf needed to take the Springboks forward.
"It was quite clear that when Garth April started to start
for the Sharks he turned the game around," sad Coetzee.
"His timing on the ball is good and in
all fairness he actually organises as well and makes sure that he gets options
outside and around him. He can manage the game."
With the Springbok squad of 31 set to be trimmed ahead of the first Test against Ireland on June 11, Coetzee confirmed that those players left out will be made available for the SA 'A' team to play against the England Saxons on June 10.