If chosen Jaque Fourie will gladly play for the Springboks at fullback, but insists No 13 is his best position.
Injuries to Bok incumbent Conrad Jantjes and possible replacement Frans Steyn ahead of the British & Irish Lions series has left coach Peter de Villiers with a selection poser. Stefan Terblanche’s steady form for the Sharks has meant he is a worthwhile option, while reports suggest De Villiers favours using Fourie at fullback.
‘Peter spoke about moving me there last year, but it has been surprising to read these things in the papers,’ Fourie told keo.co.za.
While Fourie has consistently been the form South African centre in the Super 14 and has played wing for his country, he has started only one Test at fullback – against the All Blacks in Rustenburg in 2006 where the Boks won 21-20.
‘At the moment I enjoy playing centre, but for my country I’ll play prop if I have to,’ said Fourie. ‘I haven’t played at fullback in a while and it’s very different to centre, where I’ve been for the last four or five years.
‘In terms of positioning, you get out of the habit of where the guys will kick on you and it’s not that easy to pick up again. Defence is also a whole new thing, as you don’t come up in a line and have to rush up when they have the overlap.
‘They are small things but make a whole lot of difference.’
Fourie’s coach at the Lions Loffie Eloff also believes it would be folly to move Fourie to fullback.
‘Peter spoke to me informally about moving Jaque to fullback at the end of last year,’ Eloff told this website. ‘I spoke to Jaque and we decided outside centre is his best position. He is a team man that would play lock for the Boks if he was needed to, but he is one of the world’s best centres.
‘You would take a lot of the firepower out of the backline if you move him to fullback.’
In what is expected to be a series typified by the battle for territory, Fourie’s lack of a kicking game at the back would rob the Boks of their true attacking potential.
Fourie admits use of the boot is his last resort. ‘I’m an attacking player and I don’t like kicking, it’s my last option and I prefer taking on defenders,’ he said.
‘From fullback Jaque would be dangerous hitting the line,’ said Eloff, ‘but he doesn’t like to kick, he prefers to run and attack which could be risky in such a series.
‘When we were on tour in Australasia Jaque was rated in defence and attack as one of the best No 13s in the game alongside Stirling Mortlock. I read an interesting article that also put Brian O’Driscoll alongside the pair, but he’s not as physical as them. Adi Jacobs has also done well for the Boks, but Jaque is viewed as the best in the world, and I’d agree with that.’
Jacobs is the Bok incumbent at present, but he is struggling with a shoulder problem that could require surgery, while Fourie is content with his personal form throughout the year.
‘Every coach has their own opinion, but at the moment I am enjoying my rugby and am not concentrating on the Bok No 13 jersey. I just say “if you play well, you pick yourself”.’
By Grant Ball