“We Are Excited To See What He Can Do,” – Mzwandile Stick


Springbok assistant coach Mzwandile Stick stressed the importance of using their opportunities this week after creating several last week, and said: “Australia are a tough team, so we need to get into the mindset to convert our chances into points.”

Stick was thrilled to see talented 19-year-old utility back Canan Moodie named in the side for what will be his Test debut, which will see him become the second-youngest player to become a Springbok since re-admission in 1992.

“We are excited to see what he can do,” said Stick.

“He put in some physical hits in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship, and it’s good to see him get this opportunity. He will face a challenge going up against Marika Koroibete, but he has a lot of experienced players around him and I know he’ll be up for the challenge. I’m not worried about him at all.

“We are very proud of what he has achieved, and I am sure his family is very happy for him as well.”

Of the injuries to Lukhanyo Am (centre) and Handre Pollard (flyhalf), Stick admitted that while it was a blow and sad for the players, there were positives in that Jesse Kriel (centre) and Damian Willemse (flyhalf) would get a chance to start against Australia, which will boost the team’s depth with an eye on next year’s Rugby World Cup.

“It is not nice to lose players to injury and losing players such as Handre and Lukhanyo, who are key players in our system, was a big loss,” said Stick. “But Damian (Willemse) and Jesse have done the job for us before, so it was an easy call to make.

“Jesse has been part of our system for a long time, and he’s one of the most capped players in the group. He has played at wing for us, but I think he is excited to get a run at centre, and we trust him 100%.”

Of Willemse starting at flyhalf, Stick said: “Damian Willemse is a very special player, and he brings a lot of energy. He has played flyhalf for the DHL Stormers and he has played there for us before, and it is great to see how he is growing in our game and how his confidence is growing.

“He is a warrior and I know he’ll bring his part on Saturday. I’m also looking forward to seeing him and Jaden (Hendrikse) play together.”