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The 'mature' reason why Springboks named 19-year-old wing Moodie

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Springboks coach Jacques Nienaber is backing the Test debut-making Canan Moodie to make his mark when he runs out wearing the No14 shirt against the Wallabies in round four of the Rugby Championship this Saturday in Sydney. The 19-year-old is the fifth different player the Springboks have selected at right wing in sevens matches during 2022 and he gets his chance after it was decided to bench Warrick Gelant, last weekend’s starter in that position.

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The Springboks began the year with the first-choice Cheslin Kolbe occupying the role versus Wales in Pretoria. Kurt-Lee Arendse, the 26-year-old from the Bulls, was tasked with getting his debut the following week versus the Welsh in Bloemfontein and after the position reverted to Kolbe for the July series decider in Cape Town, it was thought that the 2019 World Cup winner would keep hold of the jersey for the Rugby Championship.

That, however, hasn’t been the case as Kolbe’s fractured jaw in the series-clinching win over Wales instead sparked a Championship merry-go-round with the jersey. Arendse was named against the All Blacks in Mbombela but he was red-carded and suspended following his collision with the airborne Beauden Barrett.

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This resulted in Jesse Kriel being named at No14 for the rematch in Johannesburg but his appearance was quickly cut short by a concussion. The next man up was Gelant, who was chosen to start versus the Wallabies in Adelaide, and now it will be the turn of Moodie to start at right wing after he was named as one of eight changes to the Springboks team for this weekend’s round four Championship game.

Aside from being a Test level rookie, he is a club professional rookie as well as he has only made 18 appearances for the Bulls so far, 14 in the URC and another four in the Currie Cup. He caught the eye, though, in the Bulls’ famed URC semi-final ambush of Leinster in Dublin in June, scoring in that game to help his team through to the final.

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Moodie was called into the Springboks squad on August 8 following the confirmation of the four-game suspension for Arendse and he is now primed for his Test debut less than four weeks later. “We are excited to get him in the mix,” enthused Nienaber over a Microsoft Teams media briefing from Australia after he named his team to take on the Wallabies in Sydney.

“He had an awesome series in the URC and we followed him closely and we are excited to see him put his skill set into a Test match. He has been with us I think a month and we are really happy to see his progress within the team and how comfortable he became in the team.

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“He is a very coachable guy. He has obviously got the skills and I’m very excited to see him. When you work with him you won’t say he is a 19-year-old. He is very mature for his age and he has got a good rugby maturity and a good rugby brain on him.”

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