Gerhard Steenekamp has the skills to be Bulls’ Beast
CAPE TOWN - When last have you seen props offloading in the tackle – and not once, twice, but three times – in the same move that led to a superb try?
That is exactly what Bulls frontrowers Gerhard Steenekamp and Mornay Smith achieved in last Sunday’s 87-10 thrashing of Eastern Province at Loftus Versfeld. With 30 minutes gone in the game and the Bulls leading 17-3, the home side got to beyond the halfway line, with a well-set EP defence in front of them.
Scrumhalf Embrose Papier got the ball out of the ruck and passed to tighthead prop Smith, who most observers would’ve expected to just go head-first into the first defender.
Instead, Smith runs between the shoulders of the two tacklers, and once he goes to ground, he turns his body and produces a delightful pop pass to Steenkamp, who charges forward before making his own offload as he was tackled to lock Janko Swanepoel. The Bulls No 5 flings the ball inside to Papier, who wriggles his way out of a tackle and find Steenekamp again, who was motoring at that point.
The 23-year-old rides the tackle from Inny Radebe, but still had the wherewithal to deliver a sweet tryscoring pass to Marco Jansen van Vuren.
And now we know Steenekamp’s secret – he was a No 8 at school.
“Ja, it was rather fortunate. I feel sometimes like props get few opportunities with the ball, so when you do get it, you must make sure it goes through the hands and that you don’t make a mistake,” the Potchefstroom Gymnasium product said this week.
“I think my past experience as a loose forward does help.
“If you have been in that kind of situation before, where you have carried the ball and gone through the skills, then it is just about adding scrum fitness and things like that.”
At 1.94m and 128kg, he is a giant of a prop who could follow in the footsteps of Springbok legend Tendai Mtawarira, who also played at the back of the scrum at school.
“I would like to hope so (to emulate Mtawarira) ... but we will see and work hard, and if the path is written like that, then it will work out like that,” he said.
“With Trevor (Nyakane) and Lizo (Gqoboka) who are here, they have many unbelievable insights and experiences that they can teach us younger guys.
“It is also a big opportunity for me as I train every week in the scrum sessions against the best props in the world – (then) it’s easier to play against the second or third-best guy.
“If it must happen (becoming a Springbok), then I will get there one day.
“I can still improve a lot in the scrums and loose play.”