Western Province coach John Dobson says he is pleased that hooker Scarra Ntubeni could be set to make his Springbok debut against Argentina on Saturday. DYLAN JACK reports.
Ntubeni was called up to the Springbok squad for their World Cup farewell Test against Argentina in Pretoria, which will also act as a last opportunity for fringe players to prove their worth before Rassie Erasmus names his final squad on 26 August.
It marks six years since the 28-year-old was first included in a Springbok squad in 2013. While Ntubeni has been in subsequent squads, he has never been named in a match-day 23.
Once viewed as an up-and-coming youngster, achilles tendon and hamstring injuries, as well as the rise of Malcolm Marx, Bongi Mbonambi and Akker van der Merwe, meant that Ntubeni fell out of the Springbok frame.
Dobson told the media on Wednesday that the Province squad was happy for Ntubeni.
‘We are thrilled for Scarra,’ Dobson said. ‘That tour that he went on [in 2013], I remember he had to carry his blazer over his shoulder. We teased him this week, saying the Gemsbok can now become a Springbok.
‘So, we are absolutely thrilled. I am grateful to Rassie and pleased the way that it has worked out. We have given him a lot of game time. We have teased him in the team meetings, saying that we have melted him down.
‘I thought he was outstanding last weekend against the Pumas. His intensity in contact was amazing and he absolutely deserves this.’
Dobson added that at one stage, Ntubeno’s injury record meant that there was a genuine worry that he would be able to continue his playing career.
‘At one stage I think there was concern over whether he was going to play again. His injury record was so bad. But he has not been injured at all recently. His nickname in the team has been Joy because he has been enjoying himself so much.
‘It is a fantastic story. He was a guy largely written off on the national front. Now I expect he will get on the field against Argentina. Then he can wear the blazer properly.’
Erasmus will name his match-day 23 for this weekend’s Test on Wednesday afternoon.
Photo: Shaun Roy/Gallo Images