Boks in UK

Bath move was right - Louw

2013-11-07 07:46
Francois Louw (Getty)

Cardiff - Barn-storming Springbok flank Francois Louw bucked the trend by turning his back on his native South Africa to settle at Bath to play in the English Premiership in the prime of his career.

Along with Saracens' Namibian backrower Jacques Burger, Louw has been one of the stand-out players this season, and praised his experience at Bath as both a gamble and massive learning curve.

Louw, 28, joined Bath in 2011 from the Stormers, acknowledging that most of his countrymen tended to move overseas at the end of their careers.

"I knew it would be a gamble," he admitted, but one that has not stopped Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer selecting him at blindside for Saturday's one-off international against Wales at the Millennium Stadium.

"It's definitely been a massive learning curve for me," he said of his life in Bath, a beautiful Roman spa city in southwestern England.

"It's been fantastic. I've really enjoyed my rugby here. I think I've learnt a lot. I've grown as a player, as a person as well."

Louw, who will line up alongside No 8 Duane Vermeulen and openside Willem Alberts in the backrow, faces a battle royal against Sam Warburton, the Wales captain who also skippered the British and Irish Lions during their successful tour of Australia in the summer.

"He's a great player," Louw said of Warburton, with nemesis Justin Tipuric on the bench.

"He attacks the ball well and slows opposition ball down nicely. He's definitely a player that we are going have to watch.

"He can be very effective for Wales and a key player for them, so I think we need to do everything we can to make sure we manage the breakdown and control it effectively."

Louw said the refereeing of the breakdown differed from that in the southern hemisphere, but that it was not an issue.

"The breakdown is a little more highly contested over here," he said. "But I wouldn't say it requires different skills.

"Northern hemisphere referees allow breakdowns to develop. It's a big point in northern hemisphere rugby, especially in the Premiership: guys do compete there, they look to counter-ruck and slow the opposition's ball down.

"Breakdowns are always a massive element for us. If you have a good platform to attack from it's only going to do you better as a side. It's always an emphasis for us and it's going to be challenging this weekend."

Louw rated Wales, Six Nations champions but with a terrible record against the Springboks, as "a very good team".

"They made up the backbone of the British and Irish Lions side," he said.

"I think you will see a lot of passion. The guys are coming off the Six Nations, having done very well there, and they are going to want to prove a point, especially against a southern hemisphere side, against a Springboks side.

"I think we can expect a really tough challenge and everything leads to a very exciting Test match."

Read more on:    springboks  |  francois louw  |  rugby


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