Samuels looks forward to Strauss tussle
Cape Town - The role that Adriaan Strauss could play in the Springbok set-up should the former captain become available becomes apparent when you listen to Stormers hooker Ramone Samuels talk about the coming weekend’s confrontation between the pair.
Strauss, who was the national captain in Allister Coetzee’s first year in charge, started off 2018 on the Bulls’ bench but subsequent to making it back into the starting line-up has been playing perhaps the best rugby of his career. He has spoken about a new lease on life and enjoying the game again and said he would consider coming out of international retirement if he was convinced that he could make a positive contribution to the Bok cause.
New Bok coach Rassie Erasmus in turn has praised Strauss for the way he has played recently. Although Strauss wasn’t called up for the series of alignment camps that Erasmus staged as preparation for the international season, which starts with a three match series against England, Erasmus said that Strauss has played so well that “it would be foolish to ignore him”.
It all depends on whether Strauss is available of course, but there is a good case to put forward for the 31-year-old to serve as back-up to Malcolm Marx and to fulfil a mentorship role with the other hookers in the squad. As Samuels indicated in a press conference this week, Strauss does enjoy the respect of the other players.
“I have always admired Adriaan as a player and looked up to him and for me it is great that he is playing so well again,” said Samuels.
“He is a player who I saw as a sort of hero or role model when I was younger, a player who I really enjoyed watching play and who inspired me as a hooker, so for me it is going to be special to play against him again on Saturday. When he is in such good form it provides extra motivation as it will help your own reputation if you play well against him.”
Samuels spent his first year in the Cape after moving to the Western Province from the Lions playing in the shadow of Bongi Mbonambi. However, Mbonambi’s emergency appendectomy and then subsequent problems that necessitated further operations offered Samuels the chance to establish himself as a permanent fixture in the side this season.
Although the Stormers endured a long period where the lineout didn’t function, and obviously that attracted focus on Samuels’ throwing, his general play has been outstanding and he has been a vital cog in the Stormers pack.
“When you have players like Steven Kitshoff and Wilco Louw alongside you it is easy to scrum, but I have been enjoying my rugby and I have appreciated the chance to get an extended run,” said Samuels.
“It is when you play that you grow as a player and while you always have something to learn and to improve on, I have been happy with my progress. The lineouts were a problem at one point but we have been learning from our mistakes and since the first round Bulls game we have been operating at 95 percent efficiency.
“There have been a few lineouts that have gone wrong because of miscommunication but that happens. Generally I have been happy with my form. Adriaan is a world class hooker so I look forward to Saturday’s challenge and proving that I can mix it with the best. If I keep improving then I would like to think I might get the opportunity at some point to be part of the Bok set-up too.”
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