South Africa winger Makazole Mapimpi says he quickly had to overcome the devastation of being ruled out of the Rugby World Cup otherwise it could have “destroyed” him.
He was replaced in the squad by close friend Lukhanyo Am.
“It was painful,” Mapimpi told BBC Sport Africa before Saturday’s final against New Zealand at the Stade de France.
“But I think it was very important at the same time to go over that because if you keep it in your mind it may destroy you.
“I had to understand that it is sport and anything can happen.”
“It was good to see Lukhanyo take over my place,” he said. “We share everything – we chat, we share a room (when in camp), all this stuff.”
Am missed out on selection for the original squad after injuring his knee against Argentina in the Rugby Championship on 5 August in Buenos Aires.
“Anyone who is in that position and playing well, then all of the sudden he missed the squad because he was injured. So it was good that it was him and I’m proud,” Mapimpi said.
The winger, who is back in South Africa after having surgery, was working as a TV pundit when the Springboks fought back late on to beat England in a nail-biting semi-final.
“It was good to watch. I’m very proud of the boys for going to the final. I’m so excited and they deserve to be in the final.”
Mapimpi is “sad” to see Nienaber go, saying: “I’m sure he wants something different in his career. Such things happen and people move on.”
Christine Lake is a sports fanatic who lives and breathes athletics. With an extensive background in sports journalism, he covers everything from major league championships to grassroots sports events. When she’s not on the field or at the stadium, you’ll find Christine coaching youth sports teams.