Rob Louw chats to Sport24

    2015-06-18 12:01

    Grant Shub

    Cape Town - In an exclusive interview, former Western Province and Springbok flank ROB LOUW on Duane Vermeulen’s defection, terrible TMOs and the quarter-final showdown at Newlands on Saturday.

    Sport24 asked: Since your final Test for South Africa in 1984, how has loose forward play evolved?

    Rob Louw: I don’t believe loose forward play has evolved, I just think that we have gone backwards in terms of the way we play. At present, most South African coaches are picking loose forwards with the self-same attributes rather than selecting players who complement each other as a combination. When it comes to loose forward combinations, you have to have a linker, a runner and a fetcher. The Lions are the South African team that is closest to the ideal balance in terms of combination play.

    Sport24 asked: The Baby Boks crashed out of the Junior World Championship after losing to England in the semi-final. What ultimately undermined South Africa’s endeavour?

    Rob Louw: While the Baby Boks went unbeaten throughout the pool stage of the tournament, the warning signs were there from the start. South Africa knows how to bully and bash opponents, and they did just that against Australia. However, when they faced off against England, who stood up to them physically, they didn’t appear to have any answers. School sides in South Africa boast such great skill, but that seems to suddenly get lost when graduating to under-20 level. I believe our young players at junior national level are over-coached and over-gymed. A very important part of rugby is agility – the ability to move off your feet quickly – but our players are losing that skill. Saru have to seriously re-look our global playing strategy, because we can no longer get away with bullying sides. If we want to become world leaders, we have to add more strings to our bow.

    Sport24 asked: You’ve said, “The TMO worldwide is a joke.” What solutions would you propose?

    Rob Louw: I like the idea of a centralised TMO situated in a bunker away from the stadium, because the TMO in its current guise is clearly influenced by the crowd. It has become a difficult situation, because a lot of the TMOs that sit inside the boxes weren’t top referees. At this stage, a worrying trend is that the TMOs are seemingly more important than the man in the middle. For me, Jonathan Kaplan would be ideally suited to the TMO role as he possesses common sense and vast experience.

    Sport24 asked: Jerry Collins has been laid to rest. As a former flanker, what facets of his play did you most admire? Over your playing career, which individual did you most fear facing?

    Rob Louw: My abiding memory of Jerry Collins is of him almost cutting Colin Charvis in half courtesy of a bone-crunching tackle. I will never forget that tackle as long as I live. Collins wasn’t the biggest of men, but he cut his opponents down to size. He was as hard as nails and wore his heart on his sleeve. Collins wasn’t the most skilful player, but was an unbelievably tough opponent and everyone had respect for the way he played. Off the field, Collins was a special guy and the reaction to his passing from around the world proves what an impressive player and person he was. Jean-Pierre Rives would be the toughest opponent I came up against during my playing career. The Frenchman was a hero of mine and a special player. I later had the privilege of playing with him for a world side.

    Sport24 asked: Duane Vermeulen has signed a three-year deal with Toulon. What’s your reaction?

    Rob Louw: I’m very happy for Duane. Modern players go in search of the golden carrot, and it’s great to see a guy like him afforded the opportunity to make really top-end money. Duane has been playing unbelievably consistent rugby and is the best number eight in the world. To compare Kieran Read to Vermeulen, the former plays very wide and is renowned for an offloading type of game, whereas the latter fetches and turns the ball over. Duane is a colossus, gives 200 percent in every match and puts would-be contenders for World Cup selection in the shade. His defection to France is certainly a massive loss for Western Province, but thankfully he’s not lost to South African rugby. 

    Sport24 asked: John Plumtree has been linked with the Stormers post. Would he be the right fit?

    Rob Louw: I believe Plumtree would do brilliantly with the Stormers, but I don’t think he will easily get involved because of all political infighting that occurs in South African rugby. Take Nick Mallett as a prime example – he should be coaching, but won’t in this country because of the politics involved.

    Sport24 asked: Share your love for surfing and why you rate Kelly Slater as “the best athlete ever.”

    Rob Louw: I have surfed since my school days and surfing remains a passion of mine. I have never been a gym bunny. When I played professionally, I would turn out for Western Province or the Springboks on a Saturday and on the Sunday, I would get into my combi and head to the beach in search of the biggest waves. It’s ironic, because I never broke my ribs while playing rugby but in January, I managed to crack three ribs while surfing in Stilbaai. As far as Slater is concerned, the man is a phenomenon. At 43 years of age, he still competing against, and beating, the best in the world. The fact that he came second on the World Tour last year speaks for itself. He is an incredible competitor and is unbelievably fit. His longevity in the sport is down to a clean lifestyle. I don’t think the world of sport will ever see an athlete quite like him again. He is simply the best ever.

    Sport24 asked: The Stormers and Brumbies are pitted in a rematch at Newlands. Who will win?

    Rob Louw: The Brumbies are a difficult side to oppose, but I’m backing the Stormers to beat the Australians for a second time this season. When it comes to winning playoff games in the modern era, you have to possess a proficient driving maul and a solid set scrum. The Stormers boast an exceptional forward pack and will dominate up front. I see the Stormers squeezing the life out of the Brumbies. The Stormers’ forwards have really stepped up and their tight play has improved tenfold.


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