Kevin Anderson, South Africa’s top tennis player who is currently just outside the world top 20, surprised the Springboks at their first training session in Auckland on Tuesday afternoon.
Anderson is currently in New Zealand to undergo treatment for an injury. He will be attending the Springboks’ fourth match in the Castle Lager Rugby Championship, against the All Blacks at Eden Park on Saturday, which will also be his first Bok Test.
The 27-year-old Anderson, whose highest world ranking was 19th a month ago, is based in the USA. His next tournament is in Japan and he decided on injury rehabilitation in Auckland as this is where his physiotherapist is based.
The Boks enjoyed having Anderson at their training session, especially the three locks in the squad. At 2.03m, Anderson is only a few millimetres shorter than Eben Etzebeth.
Although Etzebeth – 30kg heavier than the tennis ace – will do more damage at the rucks, he professed with a smile that his serve, volley and backhand are probably not as good as Anderson’s.
The Springboks had a good run at Western Springs, home of the famous Ponsonby Rugby Club, which is one of the oldest clubs in New Zealand.
The match 23 for Saturday’s Test will be named on Wednesday afternoon, while the All Blacks is scheduled to name their side only on Thursday.