Fourie is coming in cold
Jaque Fourie will be playing his first match for over three months if he runs out to play a Test for the Springboks in June.
The experienced centre last played for his Japanese club Kobe Steelers at the end of February and has been training on his own in preparation for the international season.
Fourie came back into the Springbok frame at the end of last year after an absence of around two years, and he has made it clear that his main goal is to play in a fourth World Cup.
"My career goal from the last couple of years since going overseas is to play in a fourth World Cup which would be amazing for me.
"So I am working on getting physically and mentally ready for the World Cup and giving myself a good chance of contending for a spot in the squad," he said.
His first aim is to make the squad for the June Tests this year and get some game-time for the Boks, although he admitted that competition for places in the midfield is tough.
"That [playing for Boks] was the main goal for me, my club know that I want to do it so if everything goes well and if I get selected then I will get a chance to play in the June Tests.
"There are a lot of good young centres coming through, guys like Jan Serfontein, JJ [Engelbrecht], even the Free State guys are playing good rugby.
"There is a lot of talent in South Africa and they are coming through now so it is exciting to see," he said.
The sizeable insurance required for his contract with the Steelers means that Fourie simply cannot afford to take part in any 'warm-up' games before he joins up with the Boks, but he is not concerned and is confident that he will be ready to make the adjustment to Test level quickly.
"I have got no plans for that [warm-up game], I have to pay contract insurance if I get injured and break my contract so I am not going to risk that, it is my bread and butter. I have got no reason to come and play a warm-up game here.
"I am not allowed to play, I am on holiday now. I will be involved with the Springboks but at this moment I am just training on my own, running on my own.
"I'm a professional rugby player, I train every day, I gym every day to get ready for what I want to do. So for me playing games is how your body gets used to the knocks and bruises," he said.
Fourie said that playing in the less physical Japanese league has left his 31-year-old body feeling fresher than ever and ready for the demands of the Test arena.
"This age that I am at now 31, I think for my body it [playing in Japan] is very good and I must say I am enjoying it a lot.
"My body has not felt this fresh in years so being 31 it is nice. I can see that Super Rugby is tough, the guys are taking strain and if you don't look after your body it will be tough.
"For me playing there my body feels fresh, by the Wednesday my body already feels fresh enough to play another game," he added.
It remains to be seen how Heyneke Meyer intends to use Fourie in the June Tests, as although there is no doubting his fitness it may be best to ease him into it.
There are certainly plenty of options in midfield and this might be the last chance the Bok coach has to look at different options before settling on a combination looking ahead to the World Cup.
By Michael de Vries