• Goosen hungry for success

    Johan Goosen is determined to prove his worth to the Cheetahs and Springboks in the Super Rugby tournament. JON CARDINELLI reports.

    On Monday, this website detailed the Sharks’ plan for Pat Lambie and how special attention to his development will benefit the Boks. This year, Lambie will be looking to rise in the Bok flyhalf pecking order, surpassing Morné Steyn and Goosen for that starting berth.

    It will be no easy task. When all three flyhalves were fit in September 2012, Heyneke Meyer backed the then 20-year-old Goosen to start. The Bok coach believes that Goosen has the all-round skill set to be an asset to the Boks, now and in future.

    However, Steyn’s form in 2013 shouldn’t be discounted, and a good season for Lambie at the Sharks may also challenge Meyer’s thinking.

    Nobody is more aware of the fact than Goosen. He may be the preferred flyhalf, but injuries have prevented him from adding to his four Tests over the past 18 months. Clearly he has some catching up to do.

    Goosen told SARugbymag.co.za that he wants to make a statement in the 2014 Super Rugby tournament.

    ‘Last year was very disappointing in that I didn’t play Test rugby. I was privileged enough to go on the end-of-year tour with the Boks, even though I was injured. It was great to be part of the group again,’ said Goosen.

    ‘The past few months have been good in that I’ve been trying to find my rhythm again, and not rush back too soon. I feel that I will be more than ready by the time the Super Rugby tournament has kicked off.’

    While Meyer is a fan of Goosen's natural attacking flair, he has asked the flyhalf to work at improving in other departments

    Goosen was the star of the 2012 Super Rugby competition, his fine attacking game complemented by a fantastic goal-kicking record. If not for a serious shoulder during that tournament, he would have featured for Meyer’s Boks at an earlier date.

    Injuries precluded him from selection for much of 2013. Plans for a comeback in November were also scuppered when he overexerted himself during a training session.

    A knee injury rendered him unavailable for the Tests against Wales, Scotland and France. Nevertheless, he would use that time on tour to learn as much as he could from the coaching staff and the senior players.

    While Meyer is a fan of Goosen's natural attacking flair, he has asked the Cheetahs flyhalf to work at improving in other departments. Over the next few months, we will see just how far Goosen has come with regards to his tactical kicking and game-management.

    ‘I'm a running flyhalf,’ he said, 'but I understand what’s required of a modern flyhalf and why Heyneke wants me to improve my tactical kicking.

    ‘That’s where the Cheetahs improved the most in 2013,' he added, bringing his franchise into focus. 'Their defence was very good, but the kicking game really allowed them to reach the next level. I’ve been working hard on this in the off-season and hopefully I can help the Cheetahs to maintain those standards.’

    Goosen has come through the recent warm-up matches unscathed. He pushed aside suggestions that he merely needs to survive, that is, avoid serious injury over the next four months, to reclaim the Bok No 10 jersey for the June Tests.

    ‘I have accepted that injuries are a part of rugby. The good news is that I’m now fully fit, my shoulder and my knee are feeling really good. It’s not going to weigh on my mind.'

    – Read more about Goosen in the new issue of SA Rugby magazine, on sale Wednesday, 12 February

    Photo: Duif du Toit/Gallo Images

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    Jon Cardinelli