Posted on Thursday, 01 Jul 2021
The Toyota Cheetahs winger, Rosko Specman, will become the 88th Springbok to come from the union when he takes to the field against Georgia on Friday evening in the 1st Test, which will be played at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria.
Specman was named on the Springboks’ starting line-up for the Test, which will be the national team’s first match since winning the Rugby World Cup in Japan in November of 2019.
Along with Specman, the two-time world cup winner, Frans Steyn, will also start in the Test.
Specman, who has earned legendary status as Sevens Springbok, put his Olympic gold medal hopes on the back-burner in order to represent the country in the fifteen-man code. Earlier Specman stated that the Blitzboks coach, Neil Powell, encouraged him to try and make the Springbok team, especially with the British & Irish series looming.
“It was a tough one for me to choose, but when I spoke to coach Neil, he said that I had played an Olympic Games before and, if this opportunity came, he would give me the freedom to go to the Springbok camp,” said Specman.
“It’s once in a lifetime. It comes once every 12 years. I have played in the Olympics, but I haven’t played for the Springboks before.”
He is by no means the first player to represent South Africa in both codes, and, in fact, there has been more than fifty players to achieve this feat. In more recent times this included the likes of Bryan Habana, Francois Hougaard, Cornal Hendricks and Kwagga Smith, while in the past there were players like André Joubert, Ruben Kruger, Joost van der Westhuizen, Chester Williams, Henry Honiball and Bob Skinstad, to name but a few.
Apart from being an outstanding rugby player that can change the refection of a game at the drop of a hat, he is a valued member in any team because of his energetic and humorous personality.
The Springbok coach, Jacques Nienaber, who in his turn is also an ex-Bloemfonteiner, told Bloemfontein Courant that Specman adds a lot of value to the national team because of his exceptional qualities.
“ROSKO IS A LIVE-WIRE, HE BRINGS A LOT OF ENERGY AND IS A REALLY FUNNY GUY OFF THE FIELD. HE ALWAYS HAS A SMILE ON HIS FACE. BUT I MUST SAY, WHEN IT COMES TO THE RUGBY SIDE OF THINGS, HE IS A FULL PROFESSIONAL.
“It’s well documented how successful he’s been playing Sevens and how he has been part of the team that won the bronze medal at the Olympic Sevens.”
Had the Springboks played any rugby in 2020, the fiery loose-forward may just have been the 89th Springbok delivered by the Cheetahs. He did, however, move on to the Leicester Tigers in England last year where he has made a massive impact and really caught the attention of the Springboks.
Nienaber added that the ex-Cheetah, Wiese, has more than just knocked on the national team’s door.
“JASPER HAS BEEN OUTSTANDING IN THE PREMIERSHIP IN TERMS OF GETTING MOMENTUM, STOPPING MOMENTUM. HE WAS ONE OF THE GUYS WHO JUST KNOCKED THE DOOR DOWN IN TERMS OF GETTING US TO TAKE NOTICE OF HIS PERFORMANCE THERE.”
Wiese, who represented the Central University of Technology Ixias in the Varsity Cup, will also make his Springbok debut, but will, however, play off the bench.
Other former Cheetahs that will be playing on Friday night are Willie le Roux (Toyota Verblitz) and Ox Nché (Sharks), while Cobus Reinach and Franco Mostert are both born Free Staters.
Friday evening’s Test between the Springboks and Georgia at Loftus Versfeld kicks off at 19:00.
Springboks to face Georgia – 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Rosko Specman, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Frans Steyn, 11 Aphelele Fassi, 10 Handré Pollard, 9 Cobus Reinach, 8 Kwagga Smith, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Siya Kolisi (captain), 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Bongi Mbonambi, 1 Ox Nche.
Replacements – 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Frans Malherbe, 19 Marvin Orie, 20 Jasper Wiese, 21 Herschel Jantjies, 22 Elton Jantjies, 23 Damian Willemse.