Cape Town - Lurking
with intent ... that’s Lood de Jager.
READ: Last-gasp Jantjies drop leads BaaBaas to comeback win
Barbarians match should never be used as a major yardstick for Test credentials
or positional pecking orders, the lanky Bulls lock nevertheless left a handy
little summer missive about his desire to be integral to Springbok plans once
more, for World Cup year, at Twickenham on Saturday.
De Jager, in
a BaaBaas cause coached by his national mastermind Rassie Erasmus, earned
himself an early birthday present - he turns 26 in just over two weeks - through
the player-of-the-match mantle in a late snatch of the spoils against
eternally popular multinational outfit, albeit heavily dominated by South
Africans on the day, broke the hearts of a motivated (certainly evident in
their bouts of tetchiness) Pumas team as Elton Jantjies’ cool 79th-minute
dropped goal broke the deadlock for a 38-35 result.
wasn’t always an oil painting, by any means, as a plethora of handling errors
by both sides had a disruptive effect on continuity.
reasonable London crowd also had good reason to applaud enough, compelling
passages of play … and revel in the extent of the fightback by the BaaBaas.
with five Springboks in the pack and three behind the scrum, they had looked
set for a possible hiding by around the 25th minute, when Pablo
Matera and company opened up a formidable 28-7 lead, their superior cohesion as
a Test group quite obvious at the time.
little too buoyed by the public desire for them to fling the ball around in
time-honoured “BaaBaas spirit”, Erasmus’s charges were just too loose and
cavalier initially: how often, for instance, do you see Pieter-Steph du Toit,
of all people, putting through a grubber, or De Jager executing a cheeky
But as their
foothold on the game improved, so did the BaaBaas’ belief that a
come-from-behind triumph was feasible.
who stayed on the park throughout and seldom dipped in urgency, played an
integral part in the turnaround, registering the levelling try in the 75th
It was a
pleasing one, too, as he rounded off a move sparked by compatriot Jesse Kriel’s
clever snipe and offload with a trademark, eager gallop for the posts.
of 2.06m and hardly feather-light at 125kg, De Jager has fine acceleration out
of the blocks and then long, powerful strides that make him incredibly hard to
certainly expanding his reputation for scoring tries through thunderous surges:
at least two in the green and gold jersey coming quite swiftly to mind.
was on just his third Test appearance - and maiden start - against Scotland at
Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in June 2014, when he looked more like a speeding
wing, and then he got another easy-on-the-eye dot-down from longish range against
Japan at the 2015 World Cup, an achievement cruelly lost to the memories of
many in the drama of that stunning Brighton defeat for the Boks.
season cruelly curtailed by a lengthy injury layoff in the middle of it, De
Jager stayed largely peripheral on the end-of-year tour as he slowly regathered
his mojo, and his quest for the No 5 jersey not aided by Franco Mostert’s admirable
reliability in the berth.
former Lions favourite Mostert is renowned for the consistency of his general
industry and sound lineout management, De Jager may always have the edge in
athleticism and arguably even grunt at close quarters; he is a notably bigger
game did provide a reminder that De Jager is spiritedly after the now UK-based
Mostert’s Bok starting berth in the critical 2019 calendar year, especially as
the player-of-the-match adjudicator, BBC commentator and former Wales star
Jonathan Davies, lauded as “immense” De Jager’s work-rate and tackling on
But the fixture
also highlighted the professionalism and sheer toughness of Du Toit, the
versatile marauder who has so sparkled as a blindside flanker for South Africa
this year, yet will remain an appealing candidate himself for an international
lock place if ever the need comes around.
man had a sickening, accidental clash of heads with Matera in the 64th
minute, crashing to the turf with blood quickly flowing from a crack right on
the bridge of his nose and his eyes inevitably blackening quite ominously.
for all money that his afternoon was over ... but he resurfaced, noticeably
rearranged nose and all, in the last three minutes or thereabouts to greatly
aid the BaaBaas in closing out the result in their favour.
monumental efforts throughout 2018, Du Toit surely deserved to head off for his
summer holiday defiantly standing for a rugby cause ...
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