Boks set to unleash versatile Canan Moodie on Wallabies

Boks set to unleash versatile Canan Moodie on Wallabies
Canan Moodie of the Bulls on his way to score a try during the United Rugby Championship 2021/22 game against the Stormers at Cape Town Stadium on 9 April 2022. (Photo: Ryan Wilkisky / BackpagePix)

Bulls coach Jake White believes that Canan Moodie will play ‘100 Tests’ for South Africa, and his first is imminent.

Bulls utility back Canan Moodie was included in a 34-man Springbok touring squad for away matches against Australia in the Rugby Championship. 

Bok coach Jacques Nienaber, who called Moodie up to the squad before last week’s Test against the All Blacks at Ellis Park (the Boks lost 35-23), has made it clear that he’s in the picture for a Test debut soon. 

“Canan is one of the best players I’ve ever coached. He’s only 19 but he’s way more mature than that,” Bulls coach Jake White said at a function at Pirates Rugby Club in Johannesburg last Friday.

“He’s got everything. He’s actually a centre and that’s the irony of the whole thing. He’s playing wing and fullback but he’s actually a 13. Many great players such as Ma’a Nonu and Jaque Fourie started as wings and fullbacks and ended up being great centres.”

White said that when the call came for Moodie to join the Boks last week, the youngster broke down in tears. His humble approach also saw him fulfil the role of ball boy for a women’s game at Loftus recently.

“This season he was playing in the United Rugby Championship [URC] and [Bulls sponsor] Vodacom asked him to show people around Loftus as part of a marketing initiative after they’d won a prize.

boks canan moodie buls

Canan Moodie of the Vodacom Blue Bulls. (Photo: Anton Geyser / EFC Worldwide / Gallo Images)

“That same afternoon, he was the ball boy for the Currie Cup team and the Bulls Women’s team. He was already a senior URC player at this stage. We had the weekend off and he asked if he could be a ball boy. Not many guys are going to do that.”

Nienaber must clearly be eyeing Moodie as a solution to the increasing right wing problem. Cheslin Kolbe and Kurt-Lee Arendse are out of the tour because of injury and suspension, respectively. Jesse Kriel is also in doubt for the first Test of the tour after sustaining a concussion against the All Blacks. Moodie would be a natural fit.

“We are excited to see how Canan slots in during the next few weeks and to see how he adapts to our structures and systems, and we believe he has the skills to slot in for Kurt-Lee and Cheslin,” Nienaber said.

“This is a settled group of players and includes a wide spread of experience and young players who have made their presence felt, and we believe that they have what it takes to guide us back on track in the Rugby Championship in the matches against Australia.”

Big squad 

Nienaber said the touring squad, which features a good mix of youth and experience, was in line with the standard travelling squad for the Rugby World Cup and he believed that they were the right group of players to achieve what they set out to do in the two Tests against Australia, in Adelaide (Saturday, 27 August) and Sydney (Saturday, 3 September). 

Nienaber said he would make changes to the squad for the two Tests against Argentina, in Buenos Aires and Durban, as he looks to give his expanded group of players a chance to prove themselves with an eye on the Rugby World Cup, which will be hosted in France next year.

“We have been working with a large group of players for the last few months and we believe this will pay off in the long run as we look to expand our depth for the Rugby World Cup and beyond,” said Nienaber.  

“Since we are going on tour, however, we will take a group of players that is more in line with the size of a Rugby World Cup squad, and our thought process is that we will have two groups of players — one who will participate in the Australian leg of the competition and another for the Argentina matches.

“This way we can manage the players as well as possible on tour, while at the same time ensuring we continue to develop our depth and give the players opportunities to prove themselves with a little over a year to go before the Rugby World Cup kicks off.”

With Bongi Mbonambi (hooker) ruled out for four weeks after suffering a knee injury at training last week, Deon Fourie will serve as back-up to Malcolm Marx and Joseph Dweba, while Damian Willemse’s versatility in the backline will see him provide cover at flyhalf, centre and fullback.

“Bongi has been ruled out for four weeks, but Deon, who is an experienced hooker and flank, has been practising his lineout throws with us, so we are confident that he will be able to fill that void for us in these matches,” said Nienaber.

Springbok touring squad

Props: Steven Kitshoff (Stormers), Vincent Koch (Wasps), Frans Malherbe (Stormers), Ox Nché (Sharks), Trevor Nyakane (Racing 92)

Hookers: Joseph Dweba (Stormers), Malcolm Marx (Kubota Spears)

Locks: Eben Etzebeth (Sharks), Lood de Jager (Wild Knights), Salmaan Moerat (Stormers)

Loose forwards: Pieter-Steph du Toit (Toyota Verblitz), Siya Kolisi (Sharks), Elrigh Louw (Bulls), Kwagga Smith (Shizuoka Blue Revs), Jasper Wiese (Leicester Tigers), Duane Vermeulen (Ulster)

Utility forwards: Deon Fourie (Stormers), Franco Mostert (Honda Heat)

Scrumhalves: Faf de Klerk (Canon Eagles), Jaden Hendrikse (Sharks), Herschel Jantjies ( Stormers), Cobus Reinach (Montpellier)

Flyhalves: Elton Jantjies (NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes), Handré Pollard (Leicester Tigers)

Midfielders: Lukhanyo Am (Sharks), Damian de Allende (Wild Knights), André Esterhuizen (Harlequins)

Outside backs: Makazole Mapimpi (Sharks), Willie le Roux (Toyota Verblitz), Canan Moodie (Bulls), Warrick Gelant (Racing 92)

Utility Backs: Damian Willemse (Stormers), Jesse Kriel (Canon Eagles), Frans Steyn (Cheetahs) DM


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