Cape Town – “If you’re good enough, you’re old enough.” That was Springbok coach Allister Coetzee’s response on Saturday night as to why he picked young Sharks flyhalf Garth April, after only a handful of Super Rugby appearances, to face former Six Nations champions Ireland next month.
April is one of nine uncapped players in Coetzee’s first-ever Bok squad for the three-Test series against the Irish in South Africa. Ruan Combrinck (wing), Faf de Klerk (scrumhalf), Nic Groom (scrumhalf), Steven Kitshoff (prop), Jaco Kriel (flank), Bongi Mbonambi (hooker), Sikhumbuzo Notshe (loose forward) and Scarra Ntubeni (hooker) are the other new faces in the team.
Garth April during Sharks training at Kings Park Stadium. Photo: Muzi Ntombela. Credit: BackpagePix
The 24-year-old April, who still played club rugby for Durbell in the Western Cape last year, was picked by Coetzee after a few outstanding performances for the Sharks against tough opposition. But his selection was also an indication of a new era for the Boks as Coetzee looks to build towards the 2019 World Cup.
“We’ve got a Kurt Coleman, Handre Pollard and Robert du Preez injured, and I’m sure that those three players would’ve been among the squads. Garth April showed tremendous composure when he was chucked into the deep end when he played against Toulouse overseas (in a pre-season game for the Sharks in France),” the coach said.
“Garth April is one of those flyhalves who can really take it to the line and also has a good kicking game. I like the way Garth has shown composure as a youngster at 10 in top games.
“And I think it’s important to note that one shouldn’t be scared to expose young flyhalves early at that level. Because when New Zealand do it and bring a (Lima) Sopoaga to Ellis Park and they play against the Boks and they win the Test, then it’s really great from the New Zealanders. And we are actually scared to do that.”