Bulls coach's word inspires Snyman
Pretoria - Minutes before making Super Rugby debut last Saturday against the Lions, young former SA under-20 lock Eli Snyman was having a bout of nerves.
But, according to SuperSport.com, it took one line from his coach Pote Human to inspire him to a barnstorming performance as the Bulls romped home to their first win in Johannesburg in seven years.
In the process, Snyman revealed a little-seen sense of humour regarding Human when dealing with his players.
Snyman speaks of how nervous he was, having to take the lineout calls in the absence of Lood de Jager, the regular captain, and in his first start in the competition as well. He also credits De Jager for the performance last Saturday.
"It was great. I was quite nervous before the game and then coach Pote said to me: 'What could go wrong?'," he laughs.
"He said just go out there and make call and don't worry about it. If we lose 10 out of 10 lineouts it doesn't matter, just make the calls with confidence.
"A guy like Lood, even though he is injured, helps with all the lineouts and all the preparation. He really has taught us young guys a lot, which is nice."
There is a sense of confidence about Snyman, but Bulls fans will learn with disappointment he will be heading to Treviso to play club rugby in Italy at the end of Super Rugby. In essence Snyman is one of the casualties of the Bulls taking so long to choose a coach at the end of 2018, and with little prospects at that stage and three Springbok locks ahead of him, he made a decision to sign overseas.
"It was for me at the time the best decision. I had talks with the Bulls at the time and things weren't looking good for my future here, and I was meant to be playing for the university now. It just shows you how quickly things change. Like I said at the time it was my best opportunity. It is what it is.
"I didn't expect to be playing Super Rugby and a few injuries and a little bit of luck has gone my way, and I obviously want to make the most of it in my time over here.
"The coach plays a huge role and obviously if a coach backs you, you will play well and do well. At that time we didn't know who was going to be the Super Rugby coach. There was a lot of uncertainty around the whole thing. Coach Pote and I have come a long way and he is a great guy and a great coach. I just don't want to let him down."
Human jokes that he calls Snyman "my seun" (my son) and has backed the youngster despite some doubts from others, and Snyman is keen to repay that.
"It started in my first Varsity Cup year when coach Pote was the Varsity Cup coach and since then he has really backed me and believed in me, and for a player that is nice. What more could you ask for from a coach. He is a really great guy and coach and he has helped me an unbelievable amount in my times here at the Bulls."
Snyman has relished the opportunity to play and enjoyed the big win over the Lions, but now he wants to back it up, and believes the environment in the team is perfect for that.
"It was a massive, massive win for us. Everyone knows playing at Ellis Park is not easy, and to play a team as good as the Lions. We want to back it up this weekend with another good performance. We don’t want things to slip a bit like we did against the Jaguares."
He paid homage to the two elders in the pack - Duane Vermeulen and Schalk Brits - for the way they've inspired youngsters like him.
"I just think they bring a whole different calmness to the game, same with a guy like Lood. He has taught us so much. They bring a calm element and it helps the players focus on what they have to do."
With De Jager out for a few months, Snyman will see a lot more game time, and knows he has a coach to back him now. After all, little went wrong on Saturday for the youngster and having grown in confidence he is keen to face the Sharks this weekend.
And if his first start was any indication, there is a big future ahead of him.
READ the story on SuperSport.com