Johannesburg - Coenie Oosthuizen is working extremely hard to make sure he remains part of the current Springbok squad environment, which he describes as something special.
The strongly built front-ranker has spoken openly about his personal disappointment of last season, when he lost his place in the Springbok squad.
The Durban-based prop said last year he went back to his franchise and worked tremendously hard to be in contention for Springbok selection.
That effort paid off handsomely when the 28-year-old was first invited to the Springbok training camps and then included in the 31-man Springbok squad announced for the three-Test series against France, which culminates in Saturday’s third and final Test at Ellis Park in Johannesburg.
When he faced media on Tuesday in Johannesburg and sitting next to Springbok assistant coach Matt Proudfoot, Oosthuizen spoke openly about his personal fightback and his journey back to the Springbok environment.
“When I was left out (of the squad last year) it was really not a good time of my life,” said Oosthuizen.
“That is when you realise how much you miss the Bok environment; it really is something special. Looking back, I can now I can say it was a low point of my life, and that made me worked so much harder to overcome that disappointment.”
Oosthuizen also spoke with excitement of the barnstorming try he scored on his home ground in Durban last Saturday, where the Springboks clinched the series with sparkling display of impressive forward and attacking play.
It was his fourth try for the Boks.
“It is always special to score a try in the Green and Gold, more so when you’re a prop. It is something I will never forget,” he enthused.
“It was a great running line, I was at the right place and fortunate to receive the ball on that angle. The build-up to that try was as a result of our general attacking shape, something that we practised. Coach Franco (Bok attack, skills coach) is always very specific on the line he wants you to run and to attack from.
“We were all so delighted that the move worked because during training you constantly work to get it right, but many times during the match it just don’t work out the way you intended.”
He added that it was a team try not an individual effort.
Oosthuizen was also quick to dispel any possibilities of complacency now that the series has been clinched.
“There is such healthy competition in the team and everyone is excited about the environment we are creating,” he said.
“That is why it’s so good to be back and I want to work extremely hard to make sure I am ready whenever I get the opportunity to play for the Springboks.”
He has huge respect for the French side, especially their big pack of forwards: “They are a very good scrummaging pack of forwards and they have a weight advantage, which adds to their efficient scrum.
“As a proud rugby nation we know France are hurting, so we expect a massive physical battle on Saturday,” said Oosthuizen.
Brief profile of Coenie Oosthuizen:
Province: Sharks (previously Free State Cheetahs)
Springbok number: 824
Test debut: 9 June 2012 vs England in Durban aged 23
Total Tests: 25
Tour matches: 2
Total Springbok matches: 27