Vodacom Bulls coach Jake White says he would have liked for Johan Goosen to have played more rugby before joining the Springboks.
Goosen, who has been ruled out of the Bulls’ Vodacom United Rugby Championship match against Benetton on Friday after taking a head knock against Munster, will join a 26-man Bok squad next week for a three-day training camp ahead of their end-of-year tour.
White was asked during a Bulls media conference on Thursday if he thought Goosen was ready to play international rugby again having only recently returned from a knee injury that sidelined him for almost a year.
“I feel sorry for him,” White said. “People have this expectation – and it happened in the last two games for us – that he’s just going to arrive on the field and be the best player in the competition.
“He was on fire last year, he was by far the best player in the competition last year. Then he was out for 11 months. I’ve never coached a guy who comes back from an 11-month injury and just pulls the strings again.
“He has a burning desire to be a Springbok and to get back into the national team. I don’t think he is where he wants to be but, in life, there are opportunities that come at different times and you’ve got to be good and tough enough to take them. One thing I know is that he is tough enough and good enough.”
White said it was “not ideal” for Goosen to return to the Boks now.
“I would have liked him to have played a lot more rugby before going into the Springbok set-up, but he’s going into a very, very good team, a settled, world champion team.
“Ideally, you want him to be playing like he was this time last year, when he beat the SA A side on his own in Cape Town.
“I signed him until 2026, and that’s why I handle him as I do – I have a long-term plan for him. But our goal was always to get him back into the national set-up, that was part of the talk I had with him when he joined us.”
When asked if he had spoken to Springbok coaches Rassie Erasmus and Jacques Nienaber about Goosen’s situation, White said, “No, I’m not going to phone them.”
— SA Rugby magazine (@SARugbymag) October 20, 2022
Photo: Lee Warren/Gallo Images