Bulls' Stedman Gans prefers his stepping to do the talking
CAPE TOWN – Stedman Gans has set the South African rugby scene alight this season, but seems to be a man of few words. Or rather, he prefers to let his fancy footwork do the talking.
The Bulls No 13 is set for a thrilling one-on-one duel with Lions counterpart Wandisile Simelane, who has also caught the public’s attention with a number of exciting tries and line-breaks during the Currie Cup, in next Saturday’s semi-final at Loftus Versfeld (2pm kick-off).
Gans was one of the stand-out Bulls backs during Super Rugby Unlocked – he was the leading tryscorer with five, while his quick feet, devastating sidestep and time on the ball creating a number of attacking opportunities.
He impressed to such an extent that his Bulls centre partner Cornal Hendricks – a former Springbok wing himself – said publicly that Gans should be in the Bok squad.
The 23-year-old – who hails from Vredenburg on the Cape West Coast, but was recruited by top Pretoria school Hoërskool Waterkloof as a teenager – hasn’t been at full throttle during the Currie Cup, with Covid19 protocols keeping him out of action for a while. But he was back training at Loftus Versfeld yesterday, and had this to say when asked if he was ready for Simelane: “I tend not to focus on one guy when I play – but I am ready for the Lions and what that game has in store …
“This was my first full 15-man season, so my body was starting to feel it. I started to feel a little bit fatigued, so the break was good for me. I feel refreshed and ready to go again.” Gans is one of a number of Blitzbok stars to make a name for themselves in the 15-man code this season, and he said he was not surprised by the trend.
“I was still involved in the sevens last year this time. When I went to the sevens, the plan was always to come back to 15-man rugby. So, to now finally get an opportunity is exciting times for me,” he said.
“I feel like where the 15-man game is going, it suits sevens guys more and more. So, I think that definitely has an influence on why the guys are coming through the ranks. More skill and speed is coming into the game, where I feel like in the past, power played a big role.
And it still does in today’s game, but I feel like skill is also a big influence on the game now. And that is where the sevens guys come in, and they can make a difference to a game.”
Gans added that the Tokyo Olympics was “definitely a goal for me”, but now it’s all about January 23 at Loftus Versfeld – where the experience of handling pressure in the sevens format will be handy.
“You learn from being in such pressure situations before, and I can use that in this game – stuff like just focusing on the process, and not the outcome.”