Rory Kockott is determined to play Test rugby, regardless of whether it's for the Boks or France. JON CARDINELLI reports.
Kockott currently plays his rugby for Castres in Europe, and has been one of the most important players for the French club over the past three years. Castres surrendered their Top 14 title to Toulon this past Saturday, but nobody will have forgotten the role Kockott played in the 2013 final, both as a playmaker and goal-kicker.
Kockott has been with the club since 2011, and will qualify to represent the France national side in November this year. Many have asked whether he will push for a place in the Tricolores team, or continue to wait on a call from Bok coach Heyneke Meyer.
Meyer sounded the player out in June last year when the Boks were in the midst of a scrumhalf crisis. As fate would have it, Kockott was carrying an injury of his own at that point. This is the reason why he never linked up with the Boks, and why he never earned the Test cap that would prevent him from representing any other national team.
The fiery scrumhalf is in Cape Town this week to play for the World XV in a one-off game against the Boks. Certain questions will continue to be asked. Is he determined to prove a point against the country of his birth? And has he decided if he wants to play for the Boks or France at next year's World Cup?
'That has to be the most asked question over the past year or so,' Kockott said. 'It's a professional sport, and ultimately I want to play at the highest level. I want to play Test rugby.'
The scrumhalf gave away very little regarding his future plans. What is clear is that he wants to be at that global tournament, whether it's in a green jersey or blue one.
Kockott did say that he would endeavour to play to his potential at Newlands this Saturday, and at the very least he aims to give Meyer some food for thought.
For an ambitious player like Kockott, France may be the better option. The Boks have contracted three scrumhalves (Fourie du Preez, Ruan Pienaar, and Francois Hougaard) until the end of the 2015 Test season. Even if Kockott was to move up that pecking order, there would be no guarantee of him starting ahead of Du Preez, who is the best scrumhalf of this generation and central to the current Bok game plan.
The Boks are also not short on quality goal-kickers. Flyhalf Morné Steyn is one of the best in the game, and prior to injury, Pat Lambie boasted a success rate of over 80% in the 2014 Super Rugby competition. Frans Steyn is another who has been on fire in front of goal.
Photo: Thierry Zoccolan/AFP Photo