From kicking water bottles, Ruan Nortje is rising high for the Bulls
CAPE TOWN - Growing up, Ruan Nortje imagined that he was a Bulls flyhalf slotting the winning kick in the Currie Cup final.
That’s hard to believe today, considering he is two metres tall and is trying hard to put on “a bit of weight” to his 105kg frame – that number is according to his profile on the Bulls website, but is probably higher by now.
“Yoh, no, it would mean the world to me (to play in a Currie Cup final). I always remember when I was a little boy, we never had DStv and we couldn’t watch rugby. So I always went to my grandfather, and it was always so special to watch the Bulls in the prime time,” Nortje said this week.
“So, I always went there to watch the finals, and that was one of the most special times in my life. I always imagined there in my grandfather’s backyard – I was kicking the water bottles, so I thought I was probably going to play a more number 10 role.
“I always imagined myself playing in a Currie Cup final, and kicking the winning goal or something like that. But ja, it would really be a privilege to play in a final – obviously in a different position… But it’s going to be important to focus on the semi-final.”
Nortje says that he is in a “good space” after spending time with the family over Christmas, with some of the Bulls games rescheduled due to Covid-19 protocols. Now it’s about generating what he calls the right energy for the playoffs.
He has been a rock in the Bulls pack this season. He ended the Super Rugby Unlocked competition as the leading line-out jumper with 25 takes, one more than Bulls teammate Jason Jenkins and Stormers No 5 JD Schickerling.
The 22-year-old has continued in similar vein in the Currie Cup, but knows things won’t be easy in the set-piece in next Saturday’s semi-final against the Lions at Loftus Versfeld (2pm kickoff), where he will be up against Marvin Orie.
“The Lions are a very good scrummaging side, and also very good at the line-outs, with Marvin (Orie). So ja, they are definitely going to target us in those facets again, but it’s up to us to put in the hard work and make sure we can counter that,” Nortje said.
“If you want to be a really successful five lock, line-outs are your main priority. I feel that I am still learning a lot, and I won’t say I know too much yet. But I feel that I am growing, and I am still young.
“So, I am just trying to learn from everyone that I play with, guys like Duane (Vermeulen) and all the senior
guys. To run the whole line-out at such a young age is a privilege, and I try to be as well prepared as possible for
every weekend. I think it’s very important for me to know what’s going on with the other teams.”