Planet Rugby

Postcards from the Highveld 7

01st October 2012 21:43

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Jaco Taute Springbok debut

SA's next big thing at 13?

The Wallabies have limped off to Argentina so it's time for a showdown between the Rugby Championship winners and their arch-rivals in South Africa.

Planet Rugby's Ross Hastie returned to the Highveld - where some Lions have added green to their gold - to give you a view from the inside.

Day 7 - When Lions add green to their gold

With Australia's mobile nurse's office heading towards a fierce reception in Rosario and the All Blacks travelling in the opposite direction with an extra, rather heavy, rather significant, piece of luggage, it's been easy to overlook the other tournament that should be getting attention on the Highveld.

But the Currie Cup is worth talking about this year, especially for the teams from Jo'burg and Pretoria.

Despite haemorrhaging players to greener pastures at a rate that must be giving the management at Ellis Park sleepless nights, the Lions look like a decent bet to defend their title.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Jukskei River, the Blue Bulls - South Africa's richest union - find themselves in the embarrassing situation of lying stone last (and potentially facing a promotion-relegation play-off against Eastern Province).

Interestingly, their respective fates lie largely in each other's hands since they are set to meet at Ellis Park in the last fixture of the regular season.

Good news for the Bulls is that they'll have their Boks back by then, while the bad news for the Lions is that they'll be without their three best players - Elton Jantjies, Jaco Taute and now Lionel Mapoe - for this weekend's tricky trip to Griquas. (For the record, prop Patric Cilliers is the fourth Lion in the Bok squad).

Jantjies has been on the verge of breaking into the national team for a good two seasons now but has a lot of competition for the 10 jersey. Taute, however, has burst onto the scene and could be a star in the making. With Frans Steyn on his way to the operating theatre and Jean de Villiers on the wrong side of 30, Taute's prospects - both long and short term - look bright.

He seems like well-grounded young lad. Even in the aftermath of his Test debut, he still had a thought for his Lions team-mates, who had upset Western Province in Cape Town earlier in the day.

"Just before we started our preparations I check in on the game," admitted Taute.

"I'm relieved they pulled it off. I feel really good in the Lions squad and I'm very proud of the guys."

The 21-year-old made a solid start to his Test career at Loftus and he appears to have the kind of character that thrives on big occasions.

"I felt very comfortable from the start," he said.

"The first few minutes and the national anthems were very emotional. I could barely hold back my tears.

"It is true what they say about your debut just flying by. I can barely remember a thing.

"It was what I expected and more. We could sense how much it meant for the country and its people."

Next week is set to be another special day, in front of 90 000 fans in Soweto.

"I went to the Test [at Soccer City] last year as a spectator and I promised myself that one day I'd come back as a player," said Taute.

"That is why you play. To play for the Springboks against the All Blacks and have millions of people behind you."

Indeed, judging my the comments coming out of the All Blacks camp upon their arrival on Monday, Saturday's crowd is already having an influence on the game...

Day 6 - The truth lies between the lines

Day 5 - Springboks rule at Loftus

Day 4 - When your friend is your enemy and your enemies are friendly

Day 3 - Quade Cooper: The Kevin Pietersen of rugby

Day 2 - Reconciliation at the Casino?

Day 1 - Removing Steyns from green jerseys ain't easy

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