FROM the heart of one of South Africa’s wine regions, the Botes family of Worcester will trek to Durban this weekend to watch rugby but they will not be supporting their beloved Springboks.
Instead, they will be cheering on opponents Italy because their son Tobias is in the matchday squad and likely to get a run-out as substitute against the country of his birth. “I’ve bought them all Italian jerseys to wear, ten in total,” the scrum-half said on the eve of today’s Test at the Kings Park Rugby Stadium.
“To play for the Boks is the dream of every South African child but it is also an honour to face up against them and I’m very proud to be able to do so in the jersey of Italy.”
South Africa captain Jean de Villiers has backed coach Heyneke Meyer’s bold team selection, saying it was the first chance the Springboks have had in 12 months to pick an expansive-looking side.
The choice of uncapped scrum-half Jano Vermaak and full-back Willie le Roux was unexpected, but has been widely acclaimed by media, painting a picture of a coach suddenly releasing himself from the shackles of a stoically physical approach to the game.
“If you look at the teams we’ve played in the last year, when did he [Meyer] have an opportunity to make a selection like this?” De Villiers asked. “He was under pressure from the word go, but he has always said that deserving guys will get an opportunity.”