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Next Varsity Cup Bok steps up

Former FNB NWU-Pukke lock Lood de Jager is set to become the latest FNB Varsity Cup presented by Steinhoff International Springbok in the first Test against Wales at Kings Park in Durban on Saturday.

The 21-year-old, colossus made a big name for himself at the Cheetahs over the past two seasons, in Super Rugby and is tipped by his franchise captain Adriaan Strauss to play much bigger rugby in the not too distant future.

De Jager will get his first sniff of Test rugby, should he come off the bench and make his international debut against the Red Dragons this weekend.

He has replaced Flip van der Merwe in the match-day squad, with the Bulls stalwart taking a break to attend his brothers' wedding.

Speaking out of the Springboks camp in Durban, the 2,05m tall De Jager said he is looking forward to some game time against Wales.

De Jager has recovered from a finger injury in time for the first test after missing out on the Cheetahs last few games and said that he can't describe how he felt getting the call-up to play at the highest level.

"The first time I heard I was in the Durban training camp, I was delighted, I just can't describe the emotions I felt. It's a great honour for me," the skyscraper said.

"I made the final squad, coach Heyneke Meyer told me earlier in the week that I would be in the match-23 for this weekend. I couldn't believe it, it's a great honour, and I just want to thank the coach for the opportunity. I'll do my best for my country, if I get playing time," the proud player added.

Speaking of their opponents, De Jager said he expects a very physical game against the Welsh.

"I think it’s going to be physical game. I watched them against the Kings they like to run the ball, so it's going to be a fast-paced game.

"I want to bring physicality to the game, and I just want to do my part," he added.

Speaking of his injury, De Jager conceded that his was devastated after breaking his finger during Super Rugby.

"At first I was devastated, because I felt I had been playing good rugby. At least it was a finger, so I was able to maintain my fitness and carry on training.

"The timing was perfect, it healed just in time for the training camp. The injury healed nicely and I'm feeling good," De Jager concluded.

His Cheetahs teammate, Cornal Hendricks starts at wing for his debut, while Willie le Roux slots in at fullback, and France-bound Johan Goosen warms the bench.

South Africa: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 JP Pietersen, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Fourie du Preez, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Victor Matfield (captain), 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Gurthrö Steenkamp.

Replacements: 16 Schalk Brits, 17 Tendai Mtawarira, 18 Coenie Oosthuizen, 19 Lood de Jager, 20 Schalk Burger, 21 Ruan Pienaar, 22 Johan Goosen, 23 Lwazi Mvovo.

By Morgan Piek



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