I've returned a better player - Groom
Johannesburg - Two weeks ago Nick Groom made the decision to return to South Africa and knew he would have to fight his way into the Lions side once he joined them.
And on Monday, thanks to an injury to Ross Cronje, Groom will be making his first appearance for his new side on Friday when they take on the Waratahs in Sydney, according to supersport.com website.
Kick-off is at 11:45 SA time.
Groom hasn’t changed much from the stubbled player who left Western Province and the Stormers after a long stint that saw him come close in 2016 to Springbok selection, but he believes at 28 he returned a better player than he was before.
The stint at the Northampton Saints was a challenging one, and one where the fleet-footed Groom had to hone the other side of his game, with a more direct focus on his box kicking and the way the halfbacks control a game in the northern hemisphere.
But he believes the focus has made him better and he is keen to add those skills to help the Lions after returning to South Africa after his 49 caps with the Saints.
“I definitely think I’m a better player since I left. Obviously overseas there is a certain focus on aspects with regards to a scrumhalf,” Groom explained.
“You know, in terms of a kicking game, in terms of being more in control and relieving pressure. It is a more high-pressure environment in the northern hemisphere. Every game you play there is literally something on the line. A top six finish, or the European Cup.
“So, using that experience of playing week in and out, I will bring that with me and ja, I am here for a reason. I know what the coaches expect of me and a big part of my role is fitting into the style of play that they are about. I just need to do my job and pull the strings and there are more than enough exciting players out there to do the rest.”
Groom said the way the Lions played helped with his decision but the environment they operated in was more of a factor.
“I think a lot of things go into a decision like that, making your next move from a career perspective. But we have chats. I had chats with them and thoroughly enjoyed what I heard. I enjoy the style of play but also enjoy the environment they create, it made my decision easy.
“It is a really exciting positive environment and I am really excited to be here and really privileged to be able to play.
“It’s been great, a very welcoming environment. I only had my first field session this week, which I think as a rugby player is where you really get to know people. There is only so much banter you can do with a new guy so being on the field with everyone has made it a lot easier and getting to that next step with everyone has really helped.”
With Cronje’s return from a rib injury still uncertain, Groom is on tour for the next month with the side and has the opportunity to impress, both on and off the field in his new team.
Andries Coetzee, 14 Ruan Combrinck, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Harold Vorster,
11 Madosh Tambwe, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Dillon Smit, 8 Hacjivah
Dayimani, 7 Franco Mostert (captain), 6 Kwagga Smith, 5 Marvin Orie, 4
Andries Ferreira, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Jacques van Rooyen
16 Robbie Coetzee, 17 Dylan Smith, 18 Jacobie Adriaanse, 19 Lourens
Erasmus, 20 Marnus Schoeman, 21 Nic Groom, 22, Rohan Janse van Rensburg,
23 Sylvian Mahuza