Springboks loose-forward Rynhardt Elstadt determined to grab his opportunity

Rynhardt Elstadt during a Springbok training session at Loftus Versfeld on July 1 2019 in Pretoria, South Africa.
Rynhardt Elstadt during a Springbok training session at Loftus Versfeld on July 1 2019 in Pretoria, South Africa.
Image: Lee Warren/Gallo Images

Multi-faceted loose-forward Rynhardt Elstadt first made his name in 2011 when he man-handled then Springbok veteran Bakkies Botha in a Super Rugby game for the Stormers against the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld.

National team recognition though has only come a good eight years later as the quality of South Africa's loose forwards consistently kept him on the periphery.

His chance has come and he knows he has to take it.

With incumbent captain Siya Kolisi still nursing a knee injury‚ Elstadt was not only called up to fill the void‚ but he'll be making his Test debut on Saturday against Australia.

Competition though at flank hasn't diminished as Marcell Coetzee will be on the bench for Saturday's Rugby Championship opener against Australia at Ellis Park.

Elstadt‚ who feels he is calmer‚ composed and a better player than he was when he was based in South Africa‚ said he'll be ready for the international challenge.

“It's been a great honour to be included in the squad and I only knew the week before we finished the season. When I left SA for France‚ I didn't have any ideas of playing for the Springboks. It's been a great season for myself and Cheslin (Kolbe) in France I guess‚” Elstadt said.

“The rugby in the Northern Hemisphere is far different from what you get in the Southern Hemisphere. The game has evolved for the better but it's been good. Whatever I've learnt that side‚ I hope I can bring it into the squad.”

Elstadt‚ who quietly slipped out of South Africa as a "medical joker"‚ knows the value of making the most of an opportunity.

With the fact that he had clarity on his future‚ it's clear he's not in just for the short haul.

While the World Cup is now a mid-term goal for most Springbok players‚ there's the short-term objective of the Rugby Championship that starts on Saturday against the Wallabies in Johannesburg.

Then there's the one-in-12-year carrot of the British and Irish Lions when they come to these shores in 2021.

The 29-year-old isn't looking ahead that far but knows he has a chance to leave an indelible impression on coach Rassie Erasmus.

“Went I went to France‚ I went over as a medical joker but I learnt that when you do get an opportunity‚ you need to grasp it with both hands and that's exactly what happened to me. Since I started playing there‚ everything went well for me and once I grasped a bit of the language‚ things went a bit well for me‚” Elstadt said.

“I've never looked back since and every game has been an opportunity to expose myself. You can never know what the future holds but I guess it's good to be honest.”

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