It’s an old expression, but one that Stormers co-captain Juan de Jongh seemingly lives by, especially when he takes on a player like Israel Folau, who is about 15kg heavier than him.
While De Jongh has been a consistently good player at Super Rugby level, the size of his thighs have been the main reason why he hasn’t played more matches for the Springboks. So much so that former national coach Heyneke Meyer decided to pick a fullback ahead of him at outside centre last year.
It’s not something that has bothered new Bok coach Allister Coetzee in the past, especially when the two worked together at the Stormers and Western Province.
So, you have think that De Jongh will stand a better chance of making the Bok side this year. Certainly a lot better than over the last four years.
The 27-year-old is normally a candid guy when it comes to interviews ahead of a big match, but one could see the fire in his eyes when asked about his duel with Folau in midfield tonight in the Stormers’ match against the Waratahs at Newlands. It looks like he can’t wait to unleash the “dog”.
“It’s no secret that, every time I run on the field, I’m one of the smallest centres in the competition. So every weekend it’s a David v Goliath battle for me,” De Jongh said.
“This is why we play rugby, to test yourself against the best in the business. I want to leave a legacy and inspire young rugby players. Every weekend I run out on the field, and the odds are against me in terms of my size.
“But I know what’s in my heart, I know I have an ugly dog. Mentally, I feel I’m tough enough, and I’m not scared of anybody.
“There are no easy games in this competition, and that is what keeps you on your toes and helps you to grow as a person. I just have to make sure that I do well every week and leave a legacy in the Stormers jersey.”
After playing at inside centre for most of the tournament this year while Damian de Allende was out injured, the two Bok midfielders will start side by side for the first time this season tonight.
Outside centre, De Jongh’s preferred position, is probably the best place where he can push for a Bok spot because of his ability to break the line and his solid defensive skills.
But he knows only impressive performances against teams like the Waratahs will help him get back into the green and gold.
“We are now in the middle of Super Rugby and the Boks isn’t something I’m worried about at the moment. But the only way you are going to pull the green-and-gold jersey over your shoulders is to try and play to the best of your talent and play good rugby,” he said.
“I have played good rugby this season, but I have to make sure that I don’t slack off after a week off last week because of concussion. But it’s not just for me, it’s about doing well for the team also. Hopefully I can do my bit for the team, because the team means a lot to me.”
Original source: Every week, it’s a David v Goliath battle for Juan