Free State fullback Bevin Fortuin will use this weekend’s game to stake a final claim for a Springbok jersey .
“It is something that I’ve always dreamed of,” Fortuin told Keo.co.za. “Obviously, I will be putting the Cheetahs first this weekend, but everybody has Springbok selection in the back of their minds.
“If I’m chosen for the tour, then that’s great, but if I’m not, I won’t be discouraged. It just means that I’ll have to try harder next year, or even the year after that. I will never give up fighting for that position in the Springbok team.”
The 27 year old has been a key figure in the Vodacom Cheetahs side for the past couple of seasons, his consistent performances in both the domestic competition and Vodacom Super 14 staking a for a national call-up.
On Currie Cup form, he has undoubtedly been one of the standouts. This is not an easy assessment to make considering the quality of fullbacks playing in this year’s tournament. Gio Aplon was phenomenal on the counterattack for Vodacom Western Province, and young Francois Steyn was similarily impressive when he wore the No 15 jersey. But another solid player that is yet to receive national recognition is the Vodacom Blue Bulls’s Johan Roets. Fortuin added to this perception, rating him as a formidable opponent in Saturday’s final.
“He’s an underrated player who can kick the ball a long way and is very secure under the high ball. Last weekend he ran it a bit more, so we’ll have to close him down quickly.
“I’d prefer it to be a running game on Saturday, but these finals tend to be a bit conservative and so players kick a lot more. Hopefully that won’t be the case this weekend.”
Fortuin has shown that he can adapt to either game plan which is a great indicator of his well-rounded abilities. His raking boot has gained the Cheetahs countless metres, be it from his own 22 or a penalty to touch. On attack, he has always been a vital link, coming into the line at pace and often providing that final pass that gets the more prolific try scorers like Phillip Burger away.
However, he understands the challenge that lies ahead on the weekend, not only in the personal battle with Roets, but in the greater war against a Bulls team that has had the Cheetahs’ number all year.
“Their whole side has been impressive as a unit up to now, and it would be foolish for us to focus on two or three players exclusively. We will need to break down their combinations and disrupt their rhythm if we are going to win this one.”
By Jon Cardinelli