Juan de Jongh scores victory for the little guy in world of monster midfielders

Scotland know not to underestimate the Springboks' 5ft 9in inside centre today

It was on 5 June 2010 that Juan de Jongh got his first chance to strut his stuff in the Springbok No 12 jersey. Two minutes into his debut, the Stormers centre found himself in possession and in space in a summer Test against Wales at the Millennium Stadium.

He also found Jamie Roberts bearing down on him. The flyweight midfielder was swatted backwards and off the ball in unceremonious fashion. At 5ft 9in and 13st, he was no match for the 6ft 4in, 16st Welsh outhouse of an inside centre in the physicality department. It was rather like that When Mathew Met Gavin moment – as distinct from When Harry Met Sally – when the fledgling Mathew Tait was welcomed on to the international stage by a Gavin Henson shunt at the Millennium Stadium in 2005.

But then De Jongh proceeded to pick himself off the floor and show his fighting quality. Floating like a butterfly through Roberts and the rest of the Welsh midfield, he scored the 59th-minute try that effectively secured victory for a makeshift Springbok side.

Two and a half years on, at 24 and with 12 caps to his name, De Jongh gets another starting chance for the Boks today.

This time – on the second leg of their November tour, against Scotland at Murrayfield – he is not a stop-gap stand-in, as he was for Butch James on his debut. He is one of the emerging Springbok talents that Heyneke Meyer is toughening in the northern hemisphere with the 2015 World Cup in England in mind.

"Juan has really impressed us all year," said Meyer, the sometime Leicester head coach who assumed the Springbok reins from Peter de Villiers at the start of the year. "He's been great in training. I just felt he needed a chance to show what he can do at this level."

De Jongh's promotion to a starting berth has not been lost on Andy Robinson, whose Scotland side are seeking to emulate their achievement of bouncing back from a walloping by the All Blacks – it finished 51-22 last Sunday – with a victory against the Boks.

"People might not have seen a lot of De Jongh," said Robinson, the coach who blooded the teenage Tait in the international arena seven years ago.

"Just have a look at a clip of the try he scored for Western Province in the Currie Cup final – fantastic! What they've brought in is someone who's slightly different, somebody who's got good feet. That will ask a lot of questions of us."

As to the question of whether size matters, in this era of monster midfielders, De Jongh himself said: "Everyone's got their opinion on big and small. If people think I'm too small I've got a chance to show them this weekend that they're wrong. I've got a chance to prove myself.

"It's important for me to work hard and to make sure I've got all the attributes that I need in my game to be a Springbok. I've always wanted to be a Springbok and I've got a start this weekend. It's a big opportunity for me. I'll need to bring my A-game."

That A-game of instinctive, natural attacking rugby is sure to complement the tried and trusted kick, maul and grind that got the Springboks off the hook in the second half of their tour opener in Dublin a week ago.

Ireland tried the Munster wing Simon Zebo at full-back but were unable to hold on to a 12-3 half-time lead, eventually losing the game 16-12. So much, then, for the play Zebo effect.

"If you look at teams that play Ireland and are 12-3 down, not many come back and win against them," Robinson added. "I think that showed how much this South African team has improved – to come back and win that game, and in the manner they did.

"They won it through their kicking game and their ability to contest but most importantly they won it through their maul. That's an area where we've got to be able to stop them.

"They come Route One. They are prepared to run right over you, right through you. They've got an incredible maul – probably the best maul in world rugby."

Arts and Entertainment
Characters in the new series are based on real people, say its creators, unlike Arya and Clegane the Dog in ‘Game of Thrones’
tv'The Last Kingdom' embraces politics, religion, warfare, courage, love and loyalty, say creators
Sport
Sergio Romero saves Wesley Sneijder's penalty
world cup 2014But after defeating the Dutch, Lionel Messi and Argentina will walk out at the Maracana on Sunday as underdogs against Germany
Sport
Scoreboard at the end of the semi-final World Cup match between Brazil and Germany at The Mineirao Stadium in Belo Horizonte
Sport
'Saddest man in Brazil' takes defeat with good grace, handing replica trophy to German fans
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
peopleThe Game of Thrones author said speculation about his health and death was 'offensive'
Arts and Entertainment
Martin Freeman and Lauren O'Neil in Jamie Lloyd's Richard III
theatreReview: The monarch's malign magnetism and diabolic effrontery aren’t felt
News
Glamour magazine hosts a yoga class with Yogalosophy author Mandy Ingber on June 10, 2013 in New York City.
newsFather Padraig O'Baoill said the exercise was 'unsavoury' in a weekly parish newsletter
Extras
indybest
News
people'She is unstoppable', says Jean Paul Gaultier at Paris show
Sport
Alexis Sanchez and apparently his barber Carlos Moles in Barcelona today
football
Arts and Entertainment
Miley Cyrus has her magic LSD brain stolen in this crazy video produced with The Flaming Lips
video
Arts and Entertainment
In his own words: Oscar Wilde in 1882
theatreNew play by the Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials - and what they reveal about the man
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Unless films such as Guardians of the Galaxy, pictured, can buck the trend, this summer could be the first in 13 years that not a single Hollywood blockbuster takes $300m
filmWith US films earning record-breaking amounts at the Chinese box office, Hollywood is more than happy to take its lead from its new-found Asian audience
News
The garage was up for sale in Canning Place Mews for £500,000
newsGarage for sale for £500,000
Life and Style
tech
Caption competition
Caption competition
Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

Hollywood targets Asian audiences

The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial
Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app - and my mum keeps trying to hook me up!'

Grindr founder Joel Simkhai: 'I've found love on my dating app'

Five years on from its launch and Grindr is the world's most popular dating app for gay men. Its founder Joel Simkhai answers his critics, describes his isolation as a child
Autocorrect has its uses but it can go rogue with embarrassing results - so is it time to ditch it?

Is it time to ditch autocorrect?

Matthew J X Malady persuaded friends to message manually instead, but failed to factor in fat fingers and drunk texting
Westminster’s dark secret: Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together

Westminster’s dark secret

Adultery, homosexuality, sadomasochism and abuse of children were all seemingly lumped together
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Dulce et decorum est - a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Dulce et decorum est: a life cut short for a poet whose work achieved immortality
Google tells popular music website to censor album cover art in 'sexually explicit content' ban

Naked censorship?

The strange case of Google, the music website and the nudity take-down requests
Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

Howzat! 8 best cricket bats

As England take on India at Trent Bridge, here is our pick of the high-performing bats to help you up your run-count this summer 
Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014 comment: David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

David Luiz falls from leader figure to symbol of national humiliation

Captain appears to give up as shocking 7-1 World Cup semi-final defeat threatens ramifications in Brazil