Cape Town — Becoming a Springbok after his first year of top-flight rugby has not gone to Canan Moodie’s head, and one person who will make sure of that is his Bulls coach, Jake White.
To be fair to the 19-year-old from Paarl — who scored a try on his Bok debut against the Wallabies in Sydney recently — he spoke earlier this week about maintaining and improving his levels of performance.
“People will look at me now, as last year I was the new kid on the block. Now it’s year two, and I have played for the Springboks. But it will bring the best out in me, as it’s much more difficult to stay at the top. I want to prove myself every week,” Moodie said.
“I am a young guy, so I have a lot to learn. So, all the technical stuff, there is a lot of fine details and I take in all the advice to become the best player I can be.”
And ahead of Friday night’s United Rugby Championship clash against Connacht at Loftus Versfeld (6.30pm kickoff) — where Moodie is back at right wing as part of a thrilling back-three alongside Kurt-Lee Arendse and Sbu Nkosi — White stated that the youngster has the temperament to become part of Bok history.
Perhaps he can emulate another one of White’s protégés from the past, Bryan Habana, who scored 67 tries in 124 Tests.
“I’m tougher on him now! I’m much tougher on him now — and I mean that, because I think… I’ve got kids, and it’s the most normal thing in the world. He’s now gone from nowhere to Springbok, to scoring tries in Rugby Championships,” the Bulls director of rugby said.
“So, I’m tough on him, not in a horrible way — tough on him because I want to make sure that he stays like he is.
“But I don’t really have to worry about him… he is incredible. Yesterday morning, we had off. Nine ’o clock he’s here, doing extras.
“So, he hasn’t lost the fact that he is who he is, and that’s one of his attributes. I read an article the other day, and it’s true: he is a 13. Our centres are getting on now — Lionel’s (Mapoe) been around for a long time, Cornal’s (Hendricks) been around for a long time.
“It won’t be long before Canan goes into the 13 jersey as well, and it will be more work for him, to get it right.
“I’ve said it many times: he will play 100 Tests for South Africa, and people are seeing it now, what I see. Not because it’s given, not because it’s a freebie — but just because he is who he is.
“I will continue to be tough on him, to make sure that he doesn’t miss that opportunity to become a 100-Test Springbok, which is going to be massive for South Africa.”