AUDIO: Louw enjoying steep learning curve
INTERVIEW: It has been a meteoric rise for Wilco Louw and the young prop hopes to raise the bar significantly against Italy on Saturday.
The 23-year-old made his Springbok debut as a replacement off the bench against New Zealand at Newlands last month.
He was called up to the Boks' squad for the Australasian leg of the Rugby Championship, but it was not until the Newlands game against the All Blacks on October 7 that he earned his first cap.
Last week against France in Paris he made his first start in just his third Test.
On Saturday Louw, who represented the Junior Springboks (SA Under-20) as well as the SA A side, will face up to the highly-rated Italian scrum in Padova.
One of the country's brightest young front row forwards, he is solid in the scrums thanks to his powerfully built frame - with the addition of his deceptive mobility and good handling skills.
"Sometimes I have to pinch myself to make sure it is real," said, when he fronted up to the media in the build-up to the Test against Azzurri.
"One day you play [in a] Currie Cup [match] against Griquas and then you hear you have to fly to New Zealand.
"It is an incredible privilege to get an opportunity to play for the Springboks."
Louw praised the Bok coaches and his teammates for coping with the rigours of the international stage.
"Experience counts for a lot," Louw said, adding: "I may not have a lot of experience, but I learn every day.
"I have learnt a lot from [injured props] Coenie [Oosthuizen] and Frans Malherbe, [as well as] Ruan Dreyer.
"Every little thing you learn makes you a better player."
He said the game in the Northern Hemisphere certainly favours the forwards.
"It is not the Currie Cup or Super Rugby," he said of the year-end tour encounters with Ireland and France.
"Test rugby is very different, but it is an incredible privilege.
"It has been an unbelievable journey so far and I hope it continues to be an incredible journey.
"To play in a Currie Cup Final is great, but to play for South Africa is the cherry on the cake for me."
In 2012, Louw got his first provincial representation when he was called up by Boland to represent them at the 2012 Craven Week competition in Port Elizabeth.
Shortly after the competition, Louw was also named in the 2012 South African Schools squad.
After finishing school, Louw moved to Pretoria for the 2013 season to join the Blue Bulls.
In 2014, Louw was included in the South Africa Under-20 squad that participated in the Junior World Championship.
In October 2014 it was announced that Louw would return to the Western Cape by joining Western Province ahead of the 2015 season.
Louw was called up to the Springboks for the 2017 Rugby Championship, following Coenie Oosthuizen's broken arm.