Makazole Mapimpi was one of a few new Springboks to emerge from last weekend’s loss to Wales with his reputation enhanced.
Indeed, the electrifying Sharks winger delivered a very promising performance on debut, illustrating quite clearly that he’s not a one-trick pony.
VIDEO: Springboks coach Rassie Erasmus says Robert du Preez feels guilty about his vital mistakes in Washington.
Posted by The Citizen Sport on Monday, 4 June 2018
The 27-year-old is known for having a taste for the tryline as his form last season suggested.
He starred for the Kings in their last Super Rugby campaign and then took the Pro14 by storm with the Cheetahs, ending with 10 tries despite departing midway for Durban.
Yet Test rugby doesn’t provide that type of attacking freedom.
To succeed at international level, a modern winger needs to look for work elsewhere on the field – on defence or fielding high balls.
And therein lies Mapimpi’s triumph.
“I really thought Makazole was one of the major positives to come out of the Welsh defeat,” said Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus on Monday evening as the national side settles in for the build-up towards the first Test against England at Ellis Park on Saturday.
“This is a man who couldn’t even catch a cold last year. He caught every single high ball kick to him last weekend, he contested well in the air and even scored a try on debut. It was really a good thing to take out of the game.”
Mapimpi also impressed on defence, completing 8 tackles and, statistically, ending as the backline’s most prolific defender.
Not bad for a man thought to only be able to stamp his authority on games when he scores tries.
Importantly, Erasmus also highlighted how Mapimpi’s exposure to Europe’s Pro14 means he’s become an example to his teammates in facing European opponents.
“The sides in the Northern Hemisphere still have our number in terms of exploiting contestable kicks,” said the Bok mentor.
“It’s not an excuse but there’s not so much kicking in Super Rugby. So those players needed to be exposed to that during the Washington game. Makazole was far better than the rest in dealing with that because he experienced it with the Cheetahs in Pro14 and learnt from it.”