If South Africa’s 2003 World Cup squad were a wine, it would have been considered a very poor vintage indeed, but they did inspire a 17-year-old kid in Umtata to such an extent that he is now on his way to the 2015 World Cup in Great Britain.
The young adult dreams of Lwazi Mvovo are now coming true as the maker of tries looks to cement his place in the Springbok starting XV following an impressive display in the previous Test they played, the belated win over Argentina in Buenos Aires.
“I was watching the 2003 World Cup in Umtata and I decided to start playing rugby then. I was playing soccer at the time, but I ended up switching sports because I knew I could make it in rugby. That was my whole focus, I didn’t allow any stumbling blocks to get in the way of my dream,” Mvovo said after being named in Heyneke Meyer’s World Cup squad in Durban.
While the experienced JP Pietersen will obviously be pushing hard to regain the number 14 jersey, Mvovo has another string to his bow in that he can play fullback and can obviously be expected to handle the kicking game, both in terms of offence and defence, that is likely to see plenty of action at the World Cup.
“Playing as a fullback for the Sharks has opened up a whole new game-plan for me, it’s been a great couple of years. I think I have lots of natural talent, but I still have to work hard. The moment you relax you lose that feeling that you’re in the game. I still do speed training, but also a lot of kicking and catching. I do whatever I need to do to improve – kicking, catching high balls – and I’ll still do that going forward,” Mvovo said.
Although Mvovo grabbed his only chance in the international season with both hands to seal his World Cup place – proving his BMT – he said it was a nervous week in Durban before the squad announcement.
“Nobody can be sure you’re in the squad, but you just have to concentrate on training well and making sure that whenever the opportunity comes, you use it very well. So many players want to be in the Springbok team, it’s an honour and a privilege, so the training camp was just about working hard for me,” Mvovo said.
The 29-year-old with 13 Test caps does not need any prompting to talk about the United Kingdom being a happy hunting ground for him. He made his Springbok debut in Edinburgh in 2010 and he scored his first Test try the following weekend against England at Twickenham, a fine individual effort that sealed a 21-11 victory.
“Yes, Twickenham was where I scored my first international try and there are great memories whenever I go there. I hope to do the same this year if I get the chance.
“This team is experienced in the Northern Hemisphere, the tour at the end of last year really helped us. We’re going with a game-plan and we must just stick to it, the fields and the weather don’t affect that a lot,” Mvovo said.
The transformation issue swirling around Springbok rugby is also not going to distract Mvovo.
“What I can control is my dream of going to the World Cup, so performing at the camp was the most important thing, I didn’t let outside stuff affect me. But my heroes as a kid were Springboks so we must be the heroes of children now,” Mvovo said.