Springbok and Kobelco Steelers centre Jaque Fourie has scoffed at suggestions that he won’t be able to take the step up to Test level for the Springboks on their end of year tour, after having spent two years playing in Japan.
Speaking to BallzRadio, Fourie said Suntory Sungoliath and Springbok scrumhalf Fourie du Preez’s return to the Springbok fold had proved that players playing in Japan could return to the national side without appearing out of their depth.
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer on Monday recalled Fourie, along with two other former Springbok stalwarts in JP Pietersen and Bakkies Botha, in his 32-man squad for the end of year tour.
“Du Preez looked fresh and sharp (when he returned for the Springboks),” Fourie said.
Fourie took a swipe at critics who questioned his commitment to the cause for the Springbok team.
“Whether I am playing against a Japanese team or against New Zealand, every time I get onto the field I give 100%. I have enjoyed it tremendously in Japan, but it was awesome getting a call-up to come back and play for the Boks. It’s an honour and a privilege to play for my country.”
Explaining his original decision to take a break from South African rugby, Fourie said he felt after the 2011 Rugby World Cup he needed play overseas to prolong his career.
“With the amount of rugby that players play in South Africa the body takes a pounding and is under a lot of stress.”
Fourie said that although players played less rugby in Japan their conditioning was very good.
“We have a three-month pre-season, in that time you get your body in such good condition, we play a maximum of 25 games in a season and we have a month-long mid-season break, so the body always stays fresh.”
Fourie’s said the strong relationship cultivated with his club over the past two years had paved the way for his Springbok return.
“When I renegotiated my contract with Kobelco Steelers, they knew that I wanted to come back to contend for a Springbok spot at the Rugby World Cup. So when (Heyneke Meyer) called and asked if I could play for the Boks on the end of year tour, they agreed and I was very happy they said yes.”