Deon Fourie was still playing second division rugby in France at the time when Siya Kolisi held up the Webb Ellis trophy in Yokohama.
Now, four years later, he can become one of the most important links in the Springbok group: After all, he has been earmarked as one of the players who must fill Malcolm Marx’s shoes in the latest World Cup tournament in France itself.
Fourie’s versatility – there have already been agreements between him and Schalk Brits – means that he can serve on the flank or at hook. And it is in the latter position where the Goats now desperately need him.
Bongi Mbonambi – who is the no. 2 jersey and the captain’s armband against Romania – have confidence in the 36-year-old player’s scrum and lineout skills.
“Of course we will support Deon, but Malcolm and I have learned a lot from him at the same time. He also played hook for the Stormers in a few seasons and he is a very capable player,” said Mbonambi.
And if one looks at the first two seasons of the United Rugby Championship, then it is clear that Fourie is the man for a crisis situation.
He often pulled a rabbit out of the hat for the Stormers. Either by achieving reverse possession, or winning a penalty kick when he fights for the ball on the ground.
John Dobson and co cavalierly admitted they missed his ball-stealing skills when he was on the crutches earlier. However, there are few undercuts and Fourie was soon back at his post – ready to make things night for his opponents at the breakdown points.
Fourie, who celebrates his 37th birthday in nine days, said in the run-up to the World Cup tournament that he is prepared to play any role for the Springboks; after all, the team’s interests outweigh those of a player.
When your team has its back against the wall, or when a star player’s tournament is cut short by a freak injury, you want someone like Deon Fourie in your corner.
It’s not even altemit.
Springboks vs Romania: Willie le Roux (full back), Grant Williams (right wing), Canan Moodie (outside centre), André Esterhuizen (inside centre), Makazole Mapimpi (left wing), Damian Willemse (fly-half), Cobus Reinach (scrum-half), Duane Vermeulen (eighth man), Kwagga Smith (flank), Marco van Staden (flank), Marvin Orie (lock), Jean Kleyn (lock), Vincent Koch (prop), Bongi Mbonambi (captain and hooker) and Ox Nche (prop). Substitutes: Deon Fourie, Steven Kitshoff, Trevor Nyakane, RG Snyman, Jasper Wiese, Jaden Hendrikse, Faf de Klerk and Jesse Kriel.