South African-born lock Greg Rawlinson left South Africa only because of a lack of rugby opportunity. The country is still a favourite for him.
Rawlinson will play for the All Blacks against his native South Africa but he was quick to point out there was no resentment and no anger about South Africa.
Unlike South African-born Wallabies winger Clyde Rathbone who slammed the country on his return a couple of years ago, Rawlinson was emphatic that the only reason he left for New Zealand was to pursue a rugby opportunity.
“I left because I wasn’t playing professional rugby here. I left purely for rugby reasons and have nothing against anybody or anything. I love South Africa and I’ve got a lot of family and friends here.”
Rawlinson had a chance to play for the Boks last year after an outstanding domestic season in New Zealand rugby, but opted to stay in New Zealand.
“There was a time last year when Jake and I were in touch but things did not materialise. I thought about it especially because my eligibility in New Zealand had not come through but coming to play for the Springboks would have meant turning my back on my future in New Zealand,” Rawlinson said. “It has been a good week. The first time I pulled on an All Black jersey was a big moment. I’ve gone through this a number of times in my head, so I’ll pull through it. I’ve told myself that I’ll go out there and play my best.
“The anthems will be a big thing but I’m looking forward to the occasion. I’m just focusing on my rugby and trying not to get too emotional.”