The rise and rise of South African back Canan Moodie - from 'average' schoolboy player to the 'next superstar centre'

For anyone late to the young career of Canan Moodie, early impressions of the lightning back may come as a bit of a surprise.

But the ‘average’ player has blossomed into one of the most exciting young talents in the game. 

Related: Is this the next superstar centre for the Springboks?

Now, however, South Africa coach Jacques Nienaber has thrown him a challenge. Moodie moves from the wing to outside centre for the final World Cup warm-up match against New Zealand at Twickenham. He has not played as a centre since his school days.

The 1.9m tall Moodie form a plus-size midfield partnership with the 1.93m Andre Esterhuizen. But just who is the lightning giant who has gone from debutant to World Cup squad member in less than a year?

Related: South Africa Rugby World Cup squad 2023

Ten facts about Canan Moodie

Canan Moodie was born on November 5, 2002 in Paarl, in the Western Cape.

He is the second youngest player ever to win a senior cap for South Africa.

He attended the Boland Landbou School, where he played at centre.

Despite his pace, he was regarded at the time as an average player. He rarely made his school’s ‘A’ team in his younger years and never went to renowned festival of schools’ rugby, Craven Week. The Covid pandemic put paid to most of the rugby season of his final year.

After finishing school, he joined the Bulls Academy, and competed in the provincial under-20 championship in 2021. He was then selected for the Junior Springboks for the International Series in Stellenbosch – which replaced the Covid-cancelled World Rugby U20 Championship. 

He made a try-scoring Currie Cup debut for Blue Bulls against Western Province in the second round of the 2022 Currie Cup Premier Division. His early performances on the wing earned him a call-up to the Bulls’ URC squad.

From there, the journey to full international was rapid – and surprised even his most ardent fans. He was included in South Africa’s Rugby Championship squad for the trip to Australia in August 2022 – and scored on debut. 

Less than a year later, he was included in the Springboks’ wider 40-player squad for the 2023 Rugby Championship and the Rugby World Cup training camp. Two months later, he was named in the 33-player squad for the World Cup.

He has scored 12 tries in 26 matches for Bulls in the URC and Champions Cup. And, he has a further four tries in eight senior internationals for South Africa, including three in his past two outings.

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