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Ackermann ‘treasures’ his record

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Sharks lock Johan Ackermann is relishing the thought of becoming the oldest Springbok ever to wear the Green and Gold when he runs onto the Ellis Park turf to play Samoa on Saturday.

Ackermann will surpass Boy Morkel who played his last Test against the All Blacks in 1921 at the age of 36 years and 258 days.

“These days I treasure every game,” said Ackermann.

“I have had an up and down career but to be included again is a big surprise. It’s everyone’s dream to play for the Boks.”

And although Ackermann is feeling the bumps and bruises a bit more these days, he feels he is still in relatively good shape.

“It takes me a day or two longer to recover, especially on a Monday,” smiled Ackermann. “It also takes me a bit longer to warm up. But we have been well managed at the Sharks this season so that has helped.”

While Ackermann’s years push up the average age of the Boks dramatically, the young South African backline that will play on Saturday brings the figure back to normality. With new cap Waylon Murray (21) and Francois Steyn (20), the backline only have 50 caps between them, but captain John Smit sees this in a positive light.

Smit said: “It’s an opportunity for the youngsters to show what they can do.

“These guys have brought so much energy to training this week. It’s almost nervous excitement. They train flat out and sometimes we have had to stop the session and say go easy chaps — let’s get back to basics.”

Smit believes the more experienced Bok pack, which welcomes back veteran prop Os du Randt, will carry the youngsters through on the day.

“The forwards will build a platform that will allow the backs to gain confidence. We’ve also spent a lot of time with Andre Watson at practice and he has helped us with the scrums.”

Smit refused to comment about the selection of flanker Luke Watson for his first cap. But the skipper may have uttered a veiled rebuke of Watson by saying “the game is bigger than the individual.”

SAPA

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