Ruan Combrinck says a shift in mindset has aided his progression as a player over the past year, writes CRAIG LEWIS in Johannesburg.
Combrinck is set to make his Springbok debut should he come off the bench in Saturday’s Test against Ireland at Ellis Park, with the Lions star covering both wing and fullback.
At 26, Combrinck has had to bide his time to receive the honour of a national call-up, and while there may have been doubts along the way, he insists the timing is perfect to now make the step up to Springbok rugby.
‘There’s been a big shift in mindset that I’ve had from last year to now. I believe that comes with age and maturity when all the grinding and hard work begins to pay off. I did get to a stage when it felt like I’d been working so hard for so many years, and it just didn’t want to happen. But then when you get that breakthrough, you just want to capitalise on that.’
Combrinck has ridden a wave of confidence at the Lions this season, where he has emerged as the form winger in South Africa, as reflected by his six tries.
‘I had this vision in my mind the whole year, where I was picturing what it would feel like if I was selected [for the Boks] and was able to run out full of confidence at Ellis Park in front of 60,000 people on my home ground,’ Combrinck reveals. ‘So, it has been an emotional journey. There was lot of work put in during free time to get here.
‘When you’ve been playing rugby non-stop for almost three years, that confidence begins to build, and it takes away some of that emotion because you’re just so eager to play and there’s no fear in you.’
Combrinck has taken Jesse Kriel’s place on the bench for Saturday’s Test, and coach Allister Coetzee explained the reasoning behind that switch among the substitutes.
‘Ruan brings another option as goal-kicker for us. Also, without [injured] Pat [Lambie] and his right-footed kicking, I think Ruan will bring that extra assistance with his kicking game. Ruan can cover 15 and wing, with JP also able to move to outside centre, so he could provide that right-foot option out wide.’
Combrinck said he’d be happy to come on in any capacity against Ireland.
‘I’ve provided the fullback cover at the Lions, and with Elton [Jantjies] and Andries Coetzee being left-footed, I’ve brought the right-foot option. At the end of the day, I’ll catch a cannon ball for my country. They can even put me at prop.’
Photo: Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images