JOHANNESBURG – Promising rookie Lions lock Rhyno Herbst has struggled to break into the starting team, but he is now making the most of his chance in the Currie Cup competition.
The 22-year-old has had to be patient and stand a few positions back in the lock queue at the union, but with Franco Mostert playing with the Springboks, Andries Ferreira injured and Ruan Ackermann no longer in Joburg, he is now getting his chance.
And how well Herbst has played so far in the Currie Cup, having formed a quite lethal second row pairing with his captain, Bok lock Marvin Orie.
“That’s what is so great about being here at the Lions ... it’s such an advantage for us youngsters being able to learn from the senior guys, like Marvin and Sous (Mostert). We’re learning from the best and for me, who is 22 years old, I can’t ask for better.
“It’s just unbelievable what I have learnt from these guys; the little detail about lock play. What a privilege.”
Herbst was a schoolboy star at Monument in Roodepoort, played for the Lions’ junior teams and got his first look-in at senior level last year.
“I started some Currie Cup games last season, when the competition overlapped a bit with Super Rugby, but then played from off the bench.
“Now though, being able to start and play for most of the matches is really nice. You’re able to express yourself properly and it gives one an opportunity to advertise yourself, to put your name out there, show what you can do.”
And express himself he has. Herbst was a towering presence against the Cheetahs last weekend, his physicality standing out. But that’s no surprise considering his big hero is none other than former Bok hard-man Bakkies Botha.
“I enjoy it in the engine-room and as a four-lock I like the way Bakkies played. He hurt guys, was nice and physical. I liked his aggression,” said Herbst.
The youngster, who was a mean cricketer at school and also shone in athletics, has the pedigree if you consider his grandfather and father both played for the old Transvaal. “Yep, I’ve been a 'Lion’ at heart from birth,” said Herbst.
The Lions, who are three-from-three in this year’s Currie Cup competition, next face Western Province at Ellis Park on Saturday.
The men from the Cape are also unbeaten in their two games. Lions coach Ivan van Rooyen will name his lineup for the match today.