Wikus van Heerden may have been relegated to the status of tourist on the Boks’ end-of-year tour, but the experience has motivated him more than ever before.
Speaking to keo.co.za, the Cats captain reflected on the high of receiving a late call up for the tour, whilst reflecting on the three subsequent Tests in which he was excluded from every match 22.
“Jake told me he wanted to see what type of player I am,” Van Heerden said. “In his view, sticking me on the bench and then judging me on a 20 minute display would not be fair, and he said he’d rather give me a chance for a full 80 minutes.
“Going on tour was not frustrating, though. It was just so great to be back in the Bok setup. After being there, I am unbelievably motivated to make sure there’s no reason to leave me out after the Super 14. There’s just a totally different vibe about the Boks to when I was last there. It’s incredibly professional and everything is geared towards performance.”
Van Heerden’s leadership is defined by his unselfish nature and intense work rate, and thus he does not for a second suggest his focus has drifted from the Cats’ Super 14 campaign.
“Of course it’s important to me that I catch Jake’e eye again and make the squad, but being in a Super 14 setup again is very exciting. I believe in what we’re doing here, and really believe we’re going to surprise a lot of people. Mind you, talk is cheap and when you’ve underperformed for years as we have, the only statements that matter are those that we will make on the field.”
Van Heerden welcomes the widespread belief that the Cats will scrap it out to avoid relegation.
“It’s always good when everyone writes you off,” he laughs. “Let’s see how it goes.”
The Cats kick-off their campaign against the Stormers at Ellis Park next Saturday.