Andre Esterhuizen has been in scintillating form for Premiership champions Harlequins, resulting in growing calls for the centre to be included in the Springbok squad in 2022.
Esterhuizen’s last appearance in green and gold was against Argentina in 2019, and after missing out on World Cup selection he has not been part of South Africa coach Jacques Nienaber’s plans.
Munster’s Damian de Allende was backed as the Boks’ starting inside centre at the 2019 Rugby World Cup and remains the incumbent after a fine year for both club and country, while Frans Steyn offered utility cover that proved crucial in claiming another Webb Ellis title.
Tough pill to swallow
Speaking to The XV, Esterhuizen admitted it was difficult to process being left out of the Boks’ squad for the global showpiece in Japan.
“I was angry and it took a while to get past that disappointment. Every player wants to represent his country at a World Cup and I felt like I was playing good rugby at the time,” he revealed.
“When I eventually left the Sharks for Harlequins, I was uncertain about my future with the Springboks. The bad situation in South Africa also influenced my decision to move to England, as I wanted to bring up my family in a secure environment.
“The dream to play for the Boks at a World Cup never left me but at the time I was uncertain about whether I’d get another chance in the green and gold again.”
The 27-year-old, however, has not given up on being recalled by the Springboks and delivered back-to-back man of the match performances for Harlequins in recent victories against Northampton Saints and Gloucester.
Esterhuizen’s consistently impressive form of late has surely caught Nienaber’s eye as the big centre looks to force his way back into the Springbok fold.
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