Kankowski’s chance to go one better

Springbok No8 Ryan Kankowski will make his first Test start in over a year on Saturday, but it is also an opportunity for the Sharks ace to build on what his father, Tino, achieved against the 1980 British & Irish Lions. [more]

Kankowski’s chance to go one better

Springbok No8 Ryan Kankowski will make his first Test start in over a year on Saturday, but it is also an opportunity for the Sharks ace to build on what his father, Tino, achieved against the 1980 British & Irish Lions.

Tino, a centre-cum-wing in his playing days, played a tour match against Bill Beaumont’s Lions 29 years ago, while also appearing in a curtain-raiser for one of the four Tests.

"It is very special," admitted Kankowski, whose last Test start came against Italy on June 21, 2008.

"My dad phoned me yesterday… it means a lot for him to see his son playing in a Test match against the Lions."

And, of course, it is also a special moment for Kankowski Junior, who will make his third Test start in Johannesburg.

"It’s a great honour – to play against the Lions," he said, "it’s going to be awesome."

Kankowski made his debut against Wales in November 2007 – shortly after South Africa’s World Cup win – but it’s been a tough old road for the speedy Sharks loose forward since then, with the presence of Pierre Spies, and two freak injuries last year, limiting his Test appearances to just seven thus far.

But the Spies factor and those untimely injuries aside, Kankowski – the 2008 South African Super 14 Player of the Year – is well aware of the challenges that he faces to make that No8 shirt his own.

"It’s always good to have a bit of competition for positions. Pierre is a great player and if you have two guys competing for the same position you only bring out the best in each other. He’s been playing and now it’s my chance, so hopefully it goes well!"

With the Boks 2-0 up, and the 2009 series win secure, Saturday’s Test could be an open affair, which could play nicely into Kankowski’s hands.

"I think it’s going to be a good game and I’m really looking forward to it. Both teams may look to throw the ball around a bit and try things, which would suit me as it’s always good to run the ball.

"We don’t have a lot to worry about – in terms of the series being safe – but we still want to go for the 3-0 win and the Lions, obviously, will be determined to win the last one in order to avoid the whitewash."

"Ryan

Ryan Kankowski takes over from Pierre Spies as the Boks make 10 changes

Interestingly, both teams will be sporting new-look loose trios for this third and final Test.

The Lions have retained Ireland star Jamie Heaslip at the back of the scrum with veteran flankers Martyn Williams (Wales) and Joe Worsley (England) both handed their first-ever Lions starts and David Wallace and Tom Croft reverting to the bench.

The Springboks, meanwhile, have also made two changes, with Juan Smith – at No7 – the only familiar face from last week’s physical encounter in Pretoria. The suspended Schalk Burger has been replaced by ball scavenger Heinrich Brüssow and Kankowski gets a run ahead of Spies (who is on the bench).

"I’ve played with Juan before," said Kankowski, who appeared alongside Smith in both of his previous Test starts.

"Heinrich was on last year’s end-of-season tour in November and I’ve also played in the Bok Sevens side with him."

And looking at the Lions loose forwards, he added: "With Worsley and Williams there they’ve got two fetchers and Heaslip, of course, has been there throughout the series – we’re expecting a really physical game up front."

Previous story Flutey looking for the ‘ultimate’
Next story Victory vital for Lions
Download