Sport / Rugby

Heinz Schenk
2 minute read
25 Sep 2018
7:51 pm

Grown-up Koch ready to tackle Bok ‘problem’ head-on

Heinz Schenk

Unlike his fellow overseas-based teammates, the tighthead prop competes in a position with a lot of depth and is willing to prove his worth.

Vincent Koch during the South African national mens rugby team press conference at Garden Court Kings Beach Hotel on September 25, 2018 in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. (Photo by Richard Huggard/Gallo Images)

When it comes to Faf de Klerk, many rejoiced that the Springboks’ 30-cap rule for overseas-based players was relaxed.

After all, depth at scrumhalf remains dangerously thin at national level.

But don’t expect the same reaction for Vince Koch.

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Bok coach Rassie Erasmus sprung a mild surprise when he included the 28-year-old prop, a star for English club Saracens, for the remainder of the Rugby Championship campaign and for advocates for the 30-Test regulation won’t be too chuffed.

With Frans Malherbe and Wilco Louw seizing their chances at tighthead and Thomas du Toit and Coenie Oosthuizen waiting in the wings, local depth looks distinctly strong.

To his credit, Koch acknowledges he’s wiggled his way into a position that’s cluttered.

“It’s a good problem to have,” he said on Tuesday.

“Those are all world-class players and I’m sure any coach would love to be in a position where he has those players at his disposal.

“It’s definitely going to be a challenge as far as getting a start is concerned, but we’re all mates and we will push each other to the next level. That can only be a good thing for the team.”

What Erasmus can bank on though is that Koch will do everything in his power to stake his claim for a spot.

Hard work is one thing his stint in London to date has “forced” on him.

“I’ve grown mentally as well as physically since I moved overseas. Saracens have taught me to work harder, and perhaps I wasn’t working as hard in the past. Whether it’s my scrummaging or my work off the ball, I’ve become a better player since making the shift,” said Koch.

“This is another opportunity. I want to play for the green and gold again, and I will do everything I can to get that chance.”

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