Cooke won’t give up on his Bok dream

Talented Griquas centre Ronnie Cooke will soon be joining the mass-exodus of South African rugby players to Europe, but the former South African Under-21 star refuses to say goodbye to his Springbok dream just yet.

Cooke – a member of the 2005 SA U21 World Cup-winning team – will be joining French club Brive later this year, but he remains hopeful that SA Rugby will officially change their initial ruling that overseas-based players would not be considered for Bok selection from next year onwards.

“It would be very difficult for me if they decide to do that [select domestic competition players only],” Cooke told this website on Tuesday. “I guess the same could be said of a lot of the guys going overseas.

“I think rugby is getting to the stage where it is as professional as soccer and the situation there is that the guys want to play against the best players in the best competitions so they go to Europe. That’s why I decided to move.”

After playing Craven Week for Griquas, Cooke ‘transferred’ to Potchefstroom for 2004 and 2005, where he played for the Leopards, before returning to Griquas in 2006, despite having also received an offer from the Sharks.

“I was at the point of signing for the Sharks when it was suggested that I would do better at Griquas as sometimes players from the smaller teams got lost in the system of bigger clubs when they moved,” explained the 22-year-old.

And on the next step in his fledging career – the move to France – Cooke added: “Brive came in with a great offer.

“It was a really difficult decision for me because a number of South African sides had made offers too. I spoke to the unions concerned, but in the end I decided that it would be best to move [abroad].”

But his imminent move abroad aside, Cooke remains focused solely on the Currie Cup right now and, in particular, his side’s derby clash against the Cheetahs in Kimberley this Saturday.

“They’re a very good side; they play as a unit and complement each other very well,” said Cooke.

“We’ll have to play a smart game and narrow down their options by being tight defensively. That said, we can’t have an entirely defensive mindset, we have to go out there with attack on our minds first and foremost.”

365 Digital

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