Deep end awaits for rookie Bosch
Cape Town - Talk about being thrown into the deep end.
Curwin Bosch, just 19, will be the Sharks' flyhalf cover in Saturday's Super Rugby quarter-final against the Hurricanes in Wellington.
He is set to play back-up to Garth April, also a relative Super Rugby newbie, in what will be the biggest game of his life against the table-topping 'Canes at Westpac Stadium.
Bosch, nominated for 'player of the tournament' at this year's World Rugby Under-20 Championship, has played just two Super Rugby matches off the bench for the Sharks over the last two weekends.
It is a simply crazy story.
Bosch has gone from playing Varsity Shield rugby with the UKZN Impi to a Super Rugby quarter-final in less than six months.
He played fullback for the SA Under-20 side in June's Under-20 Championship, but did take on the kicking duties and finished as the second-highest points scorer in the competition.
While nobody doubts Bosch's talent and potential, a trip to New Zealand in such a crucial match does seem like a lot for such a young, inexperienced player to take on.
But Sharks coach Gary Gold doesn't have much of a choice.
Pat Lambie is still battling symptoms from the concussion he picked up in the Springboks' defeat to Ireland in the first Test back on June 11 and is deemed ineligible for the playoffs anyway, while Joe Pietersen has a fractured shoulder.
It has opened the door for Bosch who, ready or not, must step up.
"We often talk about taking lessons from New Zealand teams and I think if you take (Nehe) Milner-Skudder, you take Aaron Cruden, or you take Ben Smith or Damian McKenzie... the fact of the matter is if they’re good enough then they’re old enough," Gold said.
"From our point of view it has been circumstantial that Curwin has had an opportunity, but I’m happy that we’ve been brave enough to give him a chance to play there.
"These youngsters are stepping up to the plate. They’re good enough, they’re old enough and I think he’s shown that he’s good enough."
Gold is not getting carried away, though, and he is fully aware that Bosch has a long way to go.
There were encouraging signs when he came off the bench against the Kings this past weekend, scoring a try in his 13-minute stint.
But the Hurricanes, away, is a different challenge entirely.
"That’s not to say that there are not areas of his game that he will continue to work on but you can see he looked comfortable there in that position and I’m happy for him," said Gold.
"It’s certainly going to be a big test going to New Zealand for him, but it’s all part of the learning curve."