HE’S a man alone!
But Huddersfield YMCA’s South African prop Wian Van Niekerk is confident his country will lift the World Cup tonight – ensuring he has the bragging rights over his new teammates.
The 19-year-old from Pretoria, who moved to Huddersfield last month, will be cheering on the Springboks, surrounded by English fans at the YMCA rugby union club.
And he will be hoping it’s a day of double celebration, with the YMCA having secured a home Yorkshire I victory over Ilkley in the afternoon.
Van Niekerk admits the banter between himself and his teammates has intensified in the wake of South Africa’s 36-0 drubbing of England earlier in the tournament.
He believes the eagerly-awaited final showdown will be a much tighter affair.
But he is still predicting that his team will be too strong for the reigning world champions and has the quality to bring the trophy back to South Africa.
“It will be an exciting game. I think Bryan Habana (pictured) will score a few tries and we will win 28-9,” he confidently predicted.
“But it’s obvious we will need to stop Jonny Wilkinson and I also think their new prop, Andy Sheridan, could take some handling.
“England have improved since the opening match, but I still I think we are the better side because we’re more consistent and they have been a bit lucky to get to the final.
“I’ve obviously been winding up my friends, saying it’s going to happen again!”
Unsurprisingly, it’s not a view shared by his coach at the YMCA, Carl Thewlis.
“Wian has been talking a good game, but he’ll have to make the most of it because I expect us to have the last laugh,” said Thewlis.
“And that’s not just my view; it’s the view of most of us at the club. As you can imagine, poor Wian has been getting stick big time in training this week.
“Fortunately, he’s quite a laidback character and he’s handled it pretty well.
“I think part of that is because he’s totally convinced South Africa will win. To be honest, I think he’s being pretty complacent, expecting a whitewash like we saw when the sides met a month ago.
“I hope that’s the attitude of all his fellow countrymen!”