Springbok roommates Bevin Fortuin and JP Pietersen will fight it out for the coveted No 15 spot on the UK tour.
At the ripe old age of 27, the Vodacom Cheetahs fullback is set to make his debut against either Ireland or England next month. However, he will need to compete with a few others for a starting berth, with youngsters like Pietersen and Frans Steyn also providing options at the back.
Steyn has just completed his first season of senior rugby after representing the SA U19s at the World Championship this year. Pietersen has a Test cap, but is also relatively inexperienced at senior level. No one is certain at this point who will play fullback at Landsdowne Road, with Springbok coach Jake White giving little away.
“I don’t know what Jake’s thinking is at the moment, but we are currently running all the moves in our usual positions,” Fortuin told Keo.co.za. “I enjoy that bit of competition though, and hopefully I can impress the selectors enough to make the team to play Ireland.”
While Pietersen and Steyn have youth on their side, Fortuin has impressed for much of the domestic season with a solid all-round game. His prodigious boot is a weapon the Bok management will be keen to exploit in the inclement conditions of the Northern Hemisphere.
“I would say that it has been a strength of mine this season, and is something I have been working really hard at. But I don’t just want to be just one sort of player, my goal is to become a well-rounded player who can do everything.”
White has mentioned the benefit of having an extra week to prepare for the tour, and as a newcomer to the squad, Fortuin was inclined to agree. In previous years, the training camp ahead of the end of year tour has been two weeks, not three.
“It really helps the new guys, as we need to learn the calls and moves,” Fortuin explained. “The extra time should be very beneficial.
“There has been a lot of information that has been passed on since I arrived at the camp, and I’m learning all the time. There’s a good vibe and I’m very excited about going on tour.”
By Jon Cardinelli