DURBAN – Juan Schoeman has played his role at the Sharks for a good few seasons now after getting the opportunity to join the Durban outfit straight out of school. However, that role has mostly been a supporting act, sitting behind SA’s Premier loosehead, Beast Mtawarira.
The 26-year-old, affectionately known as Husky, is clearly being primed as the Beast’s replacement down the line. He now has the opportunity to take over the No 1 shirt from his mentor and try and grow himself as a player, as well as help the Sharks step it up one more notch from last year in the Currie Cup.
Schoeman has been steadily improving as a player, but there is no doubt that a bit of limelight, and a lot more game time, will help the Sharks prop elevate his game to new heights.
“It is an opportunity to step up and improve even more from where I was last season, but it is a big responsibility, but for all the other new guys who are stepping up and getting the opportunity too,” Schoeman said. “We will need to use it to our fullest.”
The Sharks have a weight of expectation on their shoulders after dominating last year’s competition, only to fall flat at home in Durban against Western Province. However, Schoeman is hopeful that in this shortened tournament, his side can hit the ground running as one unit.
“It is going to be important that we get going straight away,” he added.
“We need to play as a unit, because if each of us as individuals bring their A-game the whole team will perform well.”
The prop is also counting on the Sharks to bring their usual physicality into this new competition as he believes that it is a key to winning in the sport.
“Physicality is one of the most important things in our sport,” Schoeman went on. “If you don’t bring it, you are going to lose, so we really want to be as physical as we can, and even try and improve every facet of our game; be aggressive and then showcase what we have.”
Schoeman is one of a multitude of players that boasts Super Rugby experience, not to mention the sprinkling of Springboks in the side.
The prop will thus be hopeful that a strong showing in this year’s Currie Cup can be the springboard he needs to earn more game time, and even higher honours, going into next year’s Super Rugby season.