Zas has stars in his eyes
Cape Town - One could forgive 20-year-old Leolin Zas for being a little star-struck when he came up against two veterans in Odwa Ndungane and JP Pietersen over the weekend.
It was just Zas's second Super Rugby start, and while he was on the end of an agonising 18-13 defeat, he scored his side's only try.
That means that Zas has now scored two tries in as many starts, and he is quickly carving a reputation for himself as a lethal finisher.
But despite performing at the highest level, Zas still had a moment before kick-off where the enormity of the situation dawned on him.
"JP was my star at one point and I looked up to him," Zas said of the 29-year-old.
"When we warmed up and I saw JP standing on my side I was like, ‘Okay, I’m playing against JP’."
Zas's recollection of Ndungane, who is 35, was priceless.
"A guy like Ndungane … I was a small boy ... I didn’t know they were twins so I thought he played two games," Zas recalled, making reference to Odwa's twin brother, Akona, who was a mainstay at Loftus with the Bulls.
"I just wanted to show everyone else that I can do the same as what they’ve been doing for years … I was just hungry to play against them."
But Zas does not have long to soak it all in.
Saturday's loss to the Sharks makes this weekend's clash against the Brumbies at Newlands all the more important.
"It’s a big challenge … every week is still a challenge for
me," he said.
"I’m learning from the older guys and playing against the Brumbies will be
nice to measure myself against guys with Test caps."
Stormers coach Robbie Fleck is delighted by what he has seen from the youngster so far.
"He’s worked incredibly hard on his game this year. He’s
still a bit raw, but the talent is there and more importantly the attitude is
there," said Fleck.
"He is a fearless character and he’ll take on any challenge that comes
his way. He just wants the ball in his hands … the more he plays the better he
The Stormers take on the Brumbies on Saturday at 19:15.