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Gymnastics and Bulls prepped Fourie for Tongan brutes

SPOTLIGHT: Deon Fourie, who holds the record as the oldest player to have made his Springbok debut, was conditioned for the brutality of facing Tongan by two of the most contrasting sources.


In his early teens, prompted by his gymnastic coaching mother, Deon André Fourie partook in that sport and twice won the national age-group title.

The parallel bars certainly helped with his flexibility and strength, allowing him to compete at Test level at the age of 37.

On the opposite scale of contradiction is the many times he had encountered the Bulls from Pretoria while playing for Western Province and the Stormers on the rugby field.

Those two incomparable influences helped lay the foundation for Fourie to produce a Man of the Match performance in his first Test start at hooker – in the 49-18 World Cup win over Tonga in Marseille at the weekend.

He only made his Test debut for South Africa against Wales in Bloemfontein last year, having given up on being capped by the Boks.

However, his versatility – the ability to play flank and hooker – is what earned him a call-up to the World Cup squad this year.


The Pool B encounter this past Sunday is generally rated as one of the most brutal of the World Cup, but for Fourie, it was not new.

“The games in South Africa against the Bulls; that is always physical as well,” Fourie told @rugby365com.

“There probably were not the big hits that I felt today [Sunday] a few times and that you saw.

“However, credit to Tonga, they came out firing.”

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His 11 tackles and three turnovers played a significant role in the Springboks keeping alive their play-off hopes with a bonus-point win.

Fourie is pleased to have had a full 80 minutes -0 the first hour at hooker and the last 20 on the flank, after Marco van Staden came on.

“I haven’t played 80 minutes in a long time, so I probably need to do a bit more fitness,” he said.

“I was quite tired on 65 minutes, I didn’t see how I was going to finish this off with 15 minutes to go.”

He said he had no problem switching from hooker to flank during a game.

“There’s not much difference between hooker and flank, apart from the scrumming and line-outs.

“After that, it’s open play, and at the moment how the game’s evolved so much.

“You can see how Malcolm Marx plays.

“He’s almost like a flank as well,” he said of the injury No.2 that returned home from the World Cup after damaging his knee in a training ground mishap.

Fourie said he was way more relaxed with his line-out throwing than in the last two games.

“Romania gave me a bit of confidence, and especially Ireland with that last throw,” he said of the two previous pool matches.

“I also know Marvin Orie from the Stormers.

“We played two years together so our synchronisation worked well.

“I think I just lost one line-out tonight [Sunday], so that definitely gives me confidence.”


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