Vincent Koch has vowed to work himself to a standstill in order to secure a place in the Springboks' World Cup squad later this year, writes CRAIG LEWIS.
The talented Stormers and Pumas prop was named on the bench for the Boks’ clash against the World XV this Saturday, and will feature in his first game for the national side should he come off the bench.
The 25-year-old earned inclusion on the back of an impressive Vodacom Super Rugby season for the Stormers, but he admitted the opportunity to wear the green and gold had come sooner than expected.
‘When the Boks invited me to the first camp [earlier this year], it started to become a reality, but I never thought it would be quite this soon. Now looking forward, I need to believe that my chances of making the World Cup squad are as good as any other player, I’m looking forward to trying to earn my spot there.’
Koch will face plenty of competition as he looks to secure a front-row berth in the World Cup squad, but he said there was no reason to believe it wasn’t an achievable objective.
‘I need to just focus on my game and train every day as if it’s the last. I have to give absolutely everything and provide another option for [Bok coach] Heyneke [Meyer] to consider. We all have a chance, and if I can play to the best of my ability, it will also boost the other props.’
Along with Stormers teammates Steven Kitshoff and Frans Malherbe, Koch performed in a front row that regularly dominated their Super Rugby opponents at scrum-time this year.
‘As a group of forwards at the Stormers, we really worked hard to try and achieve our objective of becoming the best pack in Super Rugby,’ Koch commented. ‘Through a lot of hours, sweat and blood, we tried to go into every game with confidence, knowing that we could dominate the opposition. I must say I grew a lot, the Stormers really helped me develop as a player, and I’m really grateful that all the hard work has paid off.’
Koch credited his development to Stormers captain Duane Vermeulen.
‘There are a lot of guys who I have looked up to, some of them are out of the system already. But when I came to the Stormers, Duane really helped me a lot, not just on the field but off it as well. I look up to him because he’s such a good leader, and an incredible player. It’s largely thanks to him that I am where I am today.’
In explaining the selection of Koch, Meyer said he had highly rated the front-rower for some time.
‘Vincent has really improved a lot recently, which is testament to the hard work he and everyone who has worked with him, has put in.’
Photo: Grant Pitcher/Gallo Images