After period of uncertainty, Mohoje looks good
There were many new questions asked when the Springboks scraped home against Argentina in their Rugby Championship opener on Saturday and no immediate answers – barring one – to those inquiries.
Blindside flank Teboho “Oupa” Mohoje showed that the No 7 jersey could have a new custodian with a composed‚ authoritative and commanding performance during the Boks’ 30-23 win.
The Boks scored 17 unanswered points in the final nine minutes to rally for victory.
Mohoje made an impressive 13 tackles‚ including two superb efforts chasing down players after linebreaks‚ while also carrying tirelessly.
He was only asked to take one lineout‚ which he did‚ but his presence meant that the Pumas were unsure of where the Boks would throw to‚ with four options, including both locks and No 8 Warren Whiteley.
Although the stats show that Mohoje only made a modest 12 metres with his carries‚ he often occupied two or three defenders.
It was a performance in the best traditions of Bok No 7s and one that would have sat nicely alongside some of those from Andre Venter and Juan Smith.
The position has been a problematic one for the Boks.
Injury-prone Willem Alberts never settled while former coach Heyneke Meyer used Mohoje‚ Arno Botha and Pieter-Steph du Toit among others in that position.
This year, new coach Allister Coetzee gave Stormers’ flank Siya Kolisi starts against Ireland in June. Kolisi’s performances were workmanlike but nowhere as prominent as the fit-again Mohoje’s efforts at Mbombela Stadium on Saturday.
The Cheetahs player is a superb athlete and now that he is fully fit after missing the first three months of the season with a knee injury‚ his explosiveness and power appear to be traits worth harnessing.
Coetzee bristled when it was suggested that Mohoje had solved a problem for him.
“I’ve never felt there was a problem for us at blindside flank,” Coetzee said.
“We’ve got two No 6s in Francois [Louw] and Jaco [Kriel]. With Siya Kolisi out we’ve got Oupa at 7.
“I didn’t pick Oupa because Siya was injured‚ but because I believe he can effectively play that role at No 7.
“He’s an out-and-out lineout specialist‚ he has a high work rate‚ and he’s also got good pace‚ and that’s what we want from our loosies.
“He showed why he was in winning sides against Australia and New Zealand in 2014‚ and there’s really no doubt he’s a quality player. He has had injury problems in the past‚ but we’ve seen what value he can add at blindside flank.”
In June, Mohoje‚ who missed out on selection to last year’s World Cup despite earning seven caps in 2014 and started in the Boks’ only win over the All Blacks in four years‚ played for the SA A side.
That series against the England Saxons in June gave him confidence that he was nearing his best after his earlier injuries.
“For me‚ personally‚ playing in the SA A side certainly gave me some confidence‚ and so when this opportunity to play for the Boks came around‚ I just knew that I needed to do whatever I could to make the most of it‚” Mohoje said.