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Ken Borland

Moerat reassured by experience and wisdom of Etzebeth and De Jager

Posted on August 08, 2022 by Ken

Potential Springbok new cap Salmaan Moerat has spent a reassuring week training alongside starting locks Eben Etzebeth and Lood de Jager and has just let their experience and wisdom rub off on him ahead of the first Test against Wales at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.

Moerat was named on the bench on Tuesday alongside Elrigh Louw as the only uncapped players in the Springbok squad to tackle Wales in their first Test of 2022.

Franco Mostert, who can also play lock, is starting in the No.7 jersey, while Louw can also provide cover in the middle-row. But Moerat was one of the most consistent players in the Stormers’ triumphant URC campaign, and he will surely get a chance to replace either Etzebeth, who will be playing his 98th Test, or De Jager, making his 57th appearance.

“It’s a really comforting factor to have Eben and Lood there and they have been helping me throughout the week,” Moerat said at the Springbok hotel in Fourways on Tuesday.

“I’ve been taking their advice and just trying to let them rub off on me. It’s a real plus to be playing with guys like them and now I must just execute my job.

“And in this environment you know exactly what your job is and you are expected to execute it, nothing more. I just have to do my role, nothing flashy.

“It’s a dream come true and very emotional for me and my family. Hopefully the guys who are starting do well and we all have the opportunity to get on off the bench,” Moerat said.

Given that Moerat has been on the Springboks’ radar since he was chosen for the SA Schools side in 2015 and then captained them the following year, and that he was part of the national squad for the end-of-year tour in 2021, coach Jacques Nienaber was not going to leave him on the window sill for long.

The towering 24-year-old, who weighs 116kg, is one of the brightest talents in South African rugby and likes to get stuck in. Nienaber clearly likes what he sees.

“Since 2015 we’ve operated together and Salmaan has been a leader for both Western Province and the Junior Springboks. He’s a good human being, we should start there,” Nienaber said.

“He’s a hard-worker and he’s coachable. Salmaan brings nice physicality, and we like that. Those are the standout features,” Nienaber said.

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