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The important phone call Arendse will make before facing All Blacks

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Lee Warren/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

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Rookie Springboks winger Kurt-Lee Arendse has promised to make sure he does one particular thing before facing the All Blacks on Saturday – that is to give the injured Cheslin Kolbe a phone call for some pre-Rugby Championship advice. The 26-year-old Bulls back was named on Tuesday to start against New Zealand in the round one opener at Nelspruit, Jacques Nienaber deciding to call up a player that has only been capped once before.

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South Africa were beaten 13-12 by Wales in Bloemfontein when Arendse made his international debut last month but the broken jaw suffered by Kolbe in the series-deciding third Test versus the Welsh in Cape Town has now resulted in Nienaber backing the rookie winger to do his very best impression of the 2019 World Cup winner.

“Kurt-Lee performed well in the second Test and there are a lot of similarities when you look at his game and Cheslin’s,” said Nienaber the other day after naming a starting XV containing three changes from last time out. “We have got a like-for-like replacement there, but we are also rewarding performance. He played very well in the Wales Test.”

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So over to you then, Arendse. “I am really grateful for the opportunity,” said the newcomer at a media briefing at the Springboks base in Mbombela. “It is a privilege to follow in the big footsteps of Cheslin, I am just happy for the opportunity. They [New Zealand] are a really skilful side, they like to run the ball, but I am just focusing on what we have been doing at training during the week.”

What about Kolbe, the Springboks player Arendse is filling in for? “Cheslin is a good stepper, he is good in the air and explosive, there is a lot to admire about him and his game. My primary job is to make sure I make the tackles.

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”During the game, I always remind myself there is a job to be done and if there is a mistake I forget about it and focus on what comes next because there is no time to worry about what is gone,” he explained, adding that he hadn’t yet reached out to Kolbe for advice but would definitely do so before kick-off. “Not yet but I’m definitely going to give him a call.

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“I never thought I would play for the Springboks a year ago. I’m just grateful for the opportunity. Every time I get the opportunity to pull the Bok jersey over my head I have to take it with both hands… It is good to play against guys like Will Jordan and Sevu Reece. They are good players and you want to prove something against them. They are among the best and I’m looking forward to playing and testing myself against them.”

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