Stormers and Springbok speedster Tonderai Chavhanga is excited at the prospect of potentially playing alongside fellow flier Bryan Habana for the Boks this year.
Steve Farrell writes for Rugby 365 that the Stormers wing – who scored four tries in his eight appearances this season in the Super 14, before injuring his troublesome hamstring – has played himself back into the Bok mix and barring injury, could play a significant role this year.
‘Tondie’, as he is known to his teammates, is back on the training field and could be fit for De Villiers’s first Test as Bok coach against Wales on Saturday, June 7.
The Zimbabwean-born wing spoke exclusively to rugby365.com at their training base in Somerset West and revealed his excitement as being part of the Bok set-up again.
“That’s why we play in the first place,” said Chavhanga of his call-up.
He made his debut against Uruguay in 2005 in sensational fashion, scoring six tries in the Boks’ 134-3 romp, but has since played only once in the Green and Gold jersey – a brief 10-minute appearance against the All Blacks in last year’s Tri-Nations.
“Being selected for any Bok squad is always special,” said Chavhanga. “I’m looking forward to hopefully getting an opportunity and getting out there and playing,” added the wing.
The likeable Chavhanga was relieved at having been injury-free for the majority of the season, after suffering a bout of serious leg injuries that threatened his burgeoning career.
“It was very nice for me to have a long run after a stint of bad injuries,” he noted.
“This year I was able to play eight games and I don’t remember missing a single session since last year, so that was a pretty big achievement for me,” added the 24-year-old.
Chavhanga tore his troublesome hamstring against the Hurricanes in Week 10 of the Super 14, but is confident of getting back to full fitness “within a week or so”.
“The main priority is to get myself back on the field and be available for selection,” he said.
“I’ve been running for the last two weeks, so it’s just a matter of progressing the running. The hamstring has recovered a lot quicker than it has before, but you’ve got to take it day by day, depending on how the leg is feeling. I think it’s [the leg] almost there,” he added.
Chavhanga’s main asset is his blistering pace, so it comes as no surprise that he is relishing the opportunity of playing alongside the 2007 World Player of the Year, Bryan Habana.
“Bryan Habana is a phenomenal athlete,” he said of his teammate.
“He’s very quick and we’ve both got respect for what we do. But it’s good that we can combine. I think that’s the great thing. We’re not from the Stormers or the Bulls anymore, but we’re part of the Boks,” added the Stormers star.
Chavhanga is not the only Stormers backline player in Peter de Villiers’s squad. Jean de Villiers, Peter Grant, Conrad Jantjes, Gcobani Bobo and Ricky Januarie are all part of the training camp in Somerset West.
Chavhanga sees this as a big advantage.
“Guys like Connie [Jantjies], I’ve played with for a while now and I know exactly how he plays and he knows how I play,” said Chavhanga.
“At times on the field communication doesn’t need to be verbal. You just get a feel of what he’s going to do.
“And obviously with Jean [de Villiers], I’ve worked with him since 2004, and Peter Grant; I know his running lines and he knows where I like to pop up. So the more you play with players the more you get to know their reactions. I’m hoping we’ll get a chance to play together.”
Looking at the June Tests, the fact that the Springboks will revert back to the old laws after playing under the Experimental Law Variations (ELVs) for the Super 14 does not worry the speedster either.
Chavhanga reckons the supreme fitness of the Springboks will stand them in good stead for the two Tests against Wales in June.
“I think it’s an advantage and disadvantage,” he said.
“I don’t see it as a disadvantage for us. I see it as an advantage for them as they have been playing the old rules for a while. But we’ve got the advantage of having played the new rules and probably running a lot more.
“So I think either way you look at it it’s going to be beneficial to both teams. It’s just a matter of us adapting to the old rules. But I think that the amount of fitness and skill that we have developed in the past few months, we definitely should be able to take that into the Welsh game,” concluded Chavhanga.Tweet