CAPE TOWN – Friends will become foes for 80 minutes on Saturday when the Castle Lager Springbok Showdown kicks off at 5.05pm at Newlands in Cape Town, with two of the forwards in the Green and Gold teams, Sikhumbuzo Notshe and Bongi Mbonambi, admitting they were relishing the opportunity of playing in his special encounter.
Notshe, who will start at No 8 for the Gold team, said they were ready for the challenge of going up against the Springbok Green team loose trio consisting of Siya Kolisi, Arno Botha and Duane Vermeulen.
“It will be tough,” Notshe said of the breakdown battle that awaits them.
“We are going up against World Cup-winning loose forwards in Duane and Siya, while Arno is also an experienced campaigner and played for the Springboks before.”
Notshe, who won the last of his six Test caps in 2018, will join forces with Nizaam Carr (four caps) and Marco van Staden (three caps), in a dynamic loose trio set on dominating the breakdowns.
“We also have an exciting combination – Nizaam, Marco and myself have played for the Springboks before, and although we don’t have the same experience, it will be good to go up against the best, and we will enjoy the challenge,” said Notshe.
“In our team we have different styles as loose forwards, and I think Marco and I will complement each other. Marco likes the ground work, and Nizaam and I roam around, so we are looking forward to it.”
Notshe, who has shone for the Sharks earlier this season, said he was delighted to be back in the national team setup and relished being part of the showdown – sentiments echoed by Mbonambi.
“This week has been special – it is my first time back in this environment since 2018, so it is nice to see old faces, have former Stormers team-mates just chatting again and to have a few new guys around. I am enjoying myself,” said Notshe.
Note: Due to the ongoing Covid-19 regulations, no spectators will be allowed to attend the Showdown on Saturday.
Mbonambi whose last Test was the Rugby World Cup final in Japan 11 months ago, when he was forced to leave the field early due to an injury, was equally excited about the occasion.
“It’s really good to be back again, especially in the Springbok set-up,” said Mbonambi, whose direct opponent will be his Stormers team-mate, Scarra Ntubeni.
“It is good to see the young guys stepping up, and it is particularly encouraging that there are so many young guys getting picked and to train and be part of this occasion at Springbok level.
“They are getting to see exactly what happens and what it takes to be here, and the kind of meetings Jacques Nienaber (Springbok coach) and coach (Mzwandile) Stick have had with us has showed them to see that it is not just about pitching up at the field.
“It is all about the detail that we go through in the week. It is really good to see how the young guys have adapted in the last few days, their willingness to learn and also the attitude they bring to training.”