Springboks – Feinberg-Mngomezulu Ready For Castle Lager Rugby Championship Challenge

 

Springbok utility back and former Junior Springbok captain Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu, who made his Springbok debut against Wales at Twickenham on Saturday, said he is ready for the coming challenges after being named in national coach Rassie Erasmus’ 39-man squad for the Castle Lager Incoming Series.

The talented 22-year-old - who was a member of the triumphant 2022 DHL Stormers United Rugby Championship squad and went on to represent the SA ‘A’ squad on the team’s UK tour later that season – made a strong statement in his debut, highlighted by a long-range penalty goal in the Springboks’ 41-13 victory against the Welsh. He said he was thrilled to be selected for the squad and admitted that his meteoric rise to international rugby came as a surprise.

“Everything happened relatively fast,” said Feinberg-Mngomezulu. “Unfortunately, a few injuries led to a lack of game time, which was frustrating. But on the other hand, it gave me time to understand the game and people on a different level, and I fully understand that I’m in a new system.

“It has been a fast two years, but I’ve been accompanied by strong people.”

The player admitted that joining the system as a youngster was challenging, but he said the players experienced around him simplified the process.

"There’s a lot of work to do and a lot of things to fix,” said Feinberg-Mngomezulu. “I’m sure with the people around me I’ll get it right. Kicking with Willie (Le Roux) and Handre (Pollard), for example, you always pick up something and it’s an invaluable experience.’’

Feinberg-Mngomezulu, who is equally efficient at flyhalf and centre, said flyhalf was his preferred position but that he was not fussy about what position he plays.

"I just love playing rugby,” he said. “I had injuries which cost me minutes on the park, but wherever I get time on the field I’ll take it, it doesn’t matter where I play.

“But at flyhalf especially I like to dictate the pressure of the game.”

Looking back at his Test debut, Feinberg-Mngomezulu said the experience was unforgettable.

"It meant the most to me,” he said: “My father, godfather and some of my mates from Cape Town were at the game, so I had a full circle in England, and to share that moment with them was awesome."

The young star was modest about his first penalty goal against Wales which surprised many fans and team-mates alike.

"We work on those type of kicks, and one gets to understand your range, so when you ask for the ball, it is not a gamble,” said Feiberg-Mngomezulu. “It’s a matter of trust. When the kick happens, it feels like just another practice session, but only in front of a big crowd.

“I asked Pieter-Steph (du Toit – who captained the team in the Test) for the ball, and he just said ‘kick it’”.

Looking ahead at the Tests against Ireland in Pretoria and Durban respectively and the historic Test against Portugal in Bloemfontein, Feinberg-Mngomezulu said the Vodacom URC experience against the Irish teams added to the rivalry going into the Test series.

“It certainly adds to the Tests,” he said. “It appears as though the teams dislike one another, but we have a bitter-sweet relationship, and it always makes for great Test matches. So hopefully the rivalry continues for a long time.”

Commenting on making the step up from the DHL Stormers to the national team, Feinberg-Mngomezulu said it was a completely different environment.

“There are no days off here,” he said. “On our off-day, I spend most of my time analysing games, so it is quite a challenging environment both physically and mentally. Luckily, we have a whole lot of experienced players and coaches in the squad and that transfers into the team. So personally, I just want to go out there and do my job.”