Hilton Lobberts will not consider himself a Springbok until he has played in a Test match.
It’s a strange tradition that all touring Springboks are automatically given Springbok colours. WP winger Gus Theron went on a Vodacom Tri-Nations tour when Rudolf Straeuli was coach, but injured himself before what would have been his Test debut against the Wallabies. Despite his bad luck, Theron is still technically a Springbok, and has a blazer hanging in his cupboard. So does Boland winger Jongi Nokwe, who toured with the Boks in 2004, but never made an appearance.
However, Lobberts — who has been named on the bench for Saturday’s Test against England at Twickenham — believes that you’re only a Bok if you’ve actually pulled on the green and gold.
“It was frustrating not to play against Ireland because you don’t feel part of the squad until you’ve worn the jersey. I’ll only be a Bok when I’m on the field,” he tells keo.co.za.
Depending on the match situation, Lobberts will come onto the field during the second half, where he will join two of his Bulls team-mates in the loose trio. Lobberts played with Danie Rossouw, Pierre Spies and Jaque Cronje during the Absa Cup and believes their presence will make his introduction to Test rugby that much easier.
“Having those Bulls players in the side is great,” says Lobberts. “When we’re together, I always try to play as well if not better than them. They help to raise my game.”
England may be at their lowest ebb having lost seven Tests in a row, but Lobberts expects a big backlash from the World Cup holders.
“As a rugby player, you always want to test yourself against the best and England are the current world champions,” he says. “There’s going to be a huge crowd [82,000] and I’m expecting a physical battle.”
While Test rugby is a massive step up from the Currie Cup, Lobberts insists he won’t do anything different.
“I’m just going to play my natural game,” he says. “That’s what’s worked for me in the past, so there’s no reason to change it now.”
By Simon Borchardt, in London