'Overwhelmed' Sharks hooker's whirlwind few weeks

    2019-04-10 09:24

    Lloyd Burnard - Sport24

    Cape Town - In an age of big-money deals and ruthless player drafting, it is rare to see a rugby player earn his stripes at his home union to move through the ranks from a junior level through to the top. 

    For Sharks hooker Kerron van Vuuren, that has now happened. 

    The circumstances might not be ideal, but the 23-year-old has been thrown into the deep end this season. 

    Akker van der Merwe is banned following his punch-up with Bulls hooker Schalk Brits, Chiliboy Ralepelle is suspended and in the middle of another doping controversy while the experienced Craig Burden is sidelined with injury. 

    With those three blows all happening within a couple of weeks of each other, the Sharks were suddenly facing a hooker crisis. 

    It led to Van Vuuren, born in Durban and schooled at Glenwood High, making his starting Super Rugby debut against the Lions at Ellis Park this past weekend. 

    Up against a man considered the best hooker in the world currently in Malcolm Marx, Van Vuuren not only held his own but thrived as the Sharks secured a famous 42-5 win over their South African rivals. 

    "I was a little bit overwhelmed," Van Vuuren admitted to Durban media on Tuesday.

    "It was such an exciting moment for me having grown up being a Sharks supporter my whole life.  It was an absolute dream come true and it was really special for me.

    "It was a fairytale. Going up there to Ellis Park and beating the Lions is such a tough task, first of all, and then to beat them by that scoreline was amazing."

    On playing against Marx, Van Vuuren said the enormity of the task at hand was something he did think about. 

    "It's always in the back of your mind going up against the Bok hooker, but I used it as motivation to drive myself and get the best out of myself," he said.

    "I probably have one of the best hookers of all time that I'm going up against this weekend, but that's perfect and I enjoy that. I'll learn a lot from him and gain that experience, but I'm definitely not going to let him off easy."

    Van Vuuren was referring to Jaguares and Argentina hooker Agustin Creevy, who is expected to be the Jaguares No 2 for Saturday's clash against the Sharks at Kings Park. 

    "It's happened in the blink of an eye ... it's come overnight," Van Vuuren said.

    "I just do my best to try and do all my basics right and my planning so that when that moment comes I can do my job well.

    "I think I've gone through the right processes and I think it's time to step up in the big leagues."

    Kick-off on Saturday is at 15:05

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