Duane Vermeulen’s boots have been big ones to fill, but Springbok flank Oupa Mohoje has never been one to shy away from a challenge.
The Free State star now has to inherit that ball-carrying role but he is hoping to continue in Durban where he left off at Loftus last weekend.
“It’s unfortunate to have lost Duane but we all have a role to play,” said the 26-year-old Mohoje ahead of his 17th Test.
“Not just me, but the whole team and every time we wear that jersey we have to represent our country.
“We prepared well but my own performance can get better, that’s the aim. We have to make our presence count,” he said.
At school his coach couldn’t properly pronounce his name Teboho so he called him “Oupa”.
“And the name stuck since I was nine years when I first started playing the game. But I must say back then I never had dreams of becoming a Bok one day,” said Mohoje.
Born in the Eastern Free State in QwaQwa and having spent seven years there before moving to Bloemfontein with his parents, Mohoje felt the new combination with captain Warren Whiteley and Siya Kolisi is a work in progress.
“It was the first time as a combination and I think we did alright, but it can always get better. So the more we play as a unit we’ll find each other more.
“Warren has the liberty on the field to carry or go wide and with Duane not here, I can continue to work with him and Siya,” he said.
Mohoje believes the difference this year is that they have formed their own culture and worked hard from the start at Plettenberg Bay with psychologist Piet Kruger.