Boks on Tour
Brüssow: Baby-faced killer
Paris - Heinrich Brüssow may not be anywhere near the size of his fellow Springbok forwards, but what he lacks in physical presence he more than makes up with his spirit on the pitch as France will no doubt find out in Toulouse on Friday.
The 23-year-old Cheetahs flank does not have the physical presence of lock Victor Matfield or the 'killer' reputation of Schalk Burger but he certainly stands out with his small physique and baby-face.
Such has been his impact since being brought into the pack - known as the 'Jurassic Pack' - this summer after a brief appearance against England last November that he displaced Burger from the starting line-up during the Tri Nations tournament which South Africa won.
Burger will also start on Friday.
His contribution to the continuing success of the world champions has been fully recognised by among others his skipper John Smit.
"I think Heinrich is a phenomenal find of 2009," said Smit, capped 90 times.
"He's built for that role. Big fat guys play in the front row, the four foot two short guys get to steal ball," added the hooker turned prop, who at 1.81 metres is small by Springbok standards.
Brüssow, who was named man of the match in the Tri-Nations first Test against the All Blacks where he also scored his first try, admits that his role is mainly that of a spoiler, letting the more creative players get on with it.
"Slowing the ball down is one of the keys to success in Test rugby because it allows your defensive line to set, and the benefits of that are obvious," he said.
"If we can turn over ball, we have a superb back line who are dangerous on the counter-attack. So if I give the guys an opportunity on both counts I would have done my job."
His spoiler tactics - which has also provoked cries of foul play in the manner of his straying off-side regularly and holding onto the ball on the ground - have certainly grabbed the attention of France coach Marc Lievremont.
"Brüssow is a poison when it comes to the game on the ground," said Lievremont, himself a former backrow forward.
"It is the first time that the 'Boks' have such a high class player in this spoiling style and it is for that reason they are even stronger a unit up front as never before."
His opponents have certainly experienced his pugnacity and willingness to punch above his weight.
Most notably in the third and final test against the British and Irish Lions earlier this year when he seized all 100kg of Martyn Williams by the collar and shorts and lifted him off the ground as the Welshman was slow in getting to his feet after a maul.
France have been warned.