Despite some underwhelming showings from his side in recent weeks, Springbok coach Allister Coetzee must be delighted with the form of flanker Teboho “Oupa” Mohoje.
Mohoje has been one of the Boks’ standout performers during the Rugby Championship and has justified his selection as the two-time world champions’ first-choice blindside flanker with several impressive showings.
The Cheetahs loose forward has received plenty of flak since former Bok coach Heyneke Meyer handed him his Test debut as a replacement against Scotland in Port Elizabeth 2014.
Since then, the 26-year-old’s critics have often bemoaned his inclusion in Bok matchday squads often saying that he is merely there as a racial quota.
Admittedly, there is room for improvement in his game with his ball carrying – which ironically earned him his Test call-up under Meyer – a facet of play which needs to be looked at but the same can also be said of a majority of the current players in the Bok squad as the team has under-performed with ball in hand in 2016.
But if one looks at Mohoje’s defensive statistics during this year’s Rugby Championship then there’s little doubt that he deserves his place in the Bok side on merit.
After five rounds of Rugby Championship matches, Mohoje is currently in joint second place, alongside Bok number eight Warren Whiteley, for tackles made (51 hits) during the tournament, with only Wallabies flanker Michael Hooper making more tackles (61).
That is a remarkable statistic if one considers that Whiteley and Hooper have played a full 80 minutes in all five their teams’ matches while Mohoje has only done so twice – in the Boks’ first two matches against Argentina – as he was substituted after roughly 50 minutes in the Tests against Australia and New Zealand.
Mohoje wasn’t in Coetzee’s initial squad for their Test series against Ireland in June with Stormers tearaway Siya Kolisi wearing the number seven jersey against the men from the Emerald Isle.
While that series was being contested, Mohoje captained the South Africa ‘A’ side in their two matches against the England Saxons but Kolisi injured himself during the Stormers’ Super Rugby campaign which opened the door for the man from Bloemfontein to return to the Test arena.
Judging by Mohoje’s current form, Kolisi will have to play out of his skin to regain his spot in the Boks’ run-on side.