JOHANNESBURG - It didn’t take long for the lanky RG Snyman to make an impact at Test level. On debut last weekend, the 23-year-old Bulls man was a force in broken play, making several running metres, he tackled strongly, and was a colossus in the lineouts, even stealing an England throw-in late on to help secure the 42-39 win for the Springboks.
He will now be a marked man in the second Test in Bloemfontein this weekend and again in Cape Town next week. “(Making that steal) was a decision I took in the moment,” he said on Tuesday.
“I’m so happy it turned out the way it did, for us to be able to get the ball and close out the game.” He said he was relieved the Boks were able to fight back after going down 24-3 early on.
“During those first 20 minutes it felt like it was never going to end. But Duane (Vermeulen) pulled us together, gave us a good talking-to behind the posts, and after that we pulled it back nicely. “I’m just so honoured and privileged to be here... this was obviously a big dream of mine growing up and to start off at Ellis Park and win the way we did, it was a nice match, really special.”
The towering lock, who stands 2.06 metres tall and tips the scales at a hefty 125kg, paid tribute to the legendary Bulls locks who have gone before him in the Bok jersey as providing the inspiration for his rise in the game in Pretoria. “Being a Bulls fan growing up it was always Victor (Matfield) and Bakkies (Botha) for me, and then also Danie Rossouw, a guy with a nice physical game,” he said, adding that the competition among the second-row forwards was due to “big guys who just want to hurt each other”.
The softly-spoken giant has often been labelled the perfect combination of Matfield and Botha - intelligent and mobile, but also strong and forceful - but he said he preferred to just “play my own game”. Two other Loftus Versfeld-based men, new Bulls coach John Mitchell and lock Lood de Jager (who is injured and not playing in the England series), have also played a big part in Snyman’s development.
“The way John Mitchell coaches us, he doesn’t put a lot of pressure on us; he wants us to have fun," Snyman said. "He also understands what makes us all good, and he focuses on that; I think that is the difference this year at the Bulls.
“And then Lood, it’s so nice to play with him. He has so much experience and he’s a real hard worker. He puts the time in before games and it’s not only helped our pack at the Bulls but me as well.”
Snyman is sure to be a marked man come Saturday. “They (England) would have learned a bit about us, but we also learned about them,” he said. “They’ll come back harder, but so will we. The intensity and physicality will be there.”