PRETORIA – Eli Snyman’s ascent to the starting line-up for the Bulls has been nothing short of meteoric, after the Zimbabwe-born lock made a good first impression against the Lions last week.
It is perhaps no coincidence that the towering former Junior Bok’s name in Hebrew means “ascent”.
His impressive run-on start against the Lions softened the blow for the Bulls after they lost Springbok lock Lood de Jager last week.
De Jager, who injured his shoulder against the Jaguares, has been ruled out for at least four months.
The Bulls’ lock stocks are already running low, with Bok lock RG Snyman only expected to make a return in three weeks’ time.
Eli will effectively remain in the trenches over the next few weeks, surpassing his wildest dreams.
“I didn’t expect to be playing Super Rugby, but a few injuries and a bit of luck going my way and that is how rugby works,” Snyman said.
“I just want to make the most of it while I am here.”
The 23-year-old signed a two-year deal with Italian club Treviso at the end of the 2018, and will be leaving the Bulls at the end of the Super Rugby campaign.
At the time when Snyman made his choice, he had no idea he would be elevated into the Bulls team, never mind be calling the lineouts.
“I was meant to be playing for the university now, but it just shows you how quickly things change,” Snyman said.
“I had to do what was the best for me, a bit of security.
“I didn’t want to hang around for a few months at a time, and next you know, you don’t have a contract.”
Snyman and Jason Jenkins formed a potent combination in the Bulls pack’s demolition of the Lions at Ellis Park.
The forwards laid the foundation as they outmuscled their more mobile counterparts, grinding their way over the advantage line in their 30-12 victory.
Snyman said that while the Sharks pack would provide a different challenge in Pretoria on Saturday, they would have to produce a similar effort to make it three out of three wins against South African teams.
“The Sharks get a lot of energy from their pack and it is going to be another huge battle for us up front,” Snyman said.
“They have a big pack, and we will have to shut them down otherwise we are going to have trouble on the day.
Our #MondayMotivation for this week comes from Vodacom Bulls Lock, Eli Snyman— Official Blue Bulls (@BlueBullsRugby) March 4, 2019
"Success is not owned, it's leased and rent is due every day"
You could see Eli in action this weekend when the Vodacom Bulls take on the Cell C Sharks at Loftus. https://t.co/B4wPKDxmtW pic.twitter.com/dgFDULH3JN
“I played in the second half in the pre-season game, which was a draw, and we can expect that coming again this weekend. It is going to be a grind.”
But one suspects Snyman is not the kind of player who will disappear when the going gets tough this season.
Asked whether he likes the grind, he just smiled and said: “Ja, I mean that is what it is about. I’ve learned now in my first season... it is ridiculous how tough the competition is.
“Sometimes you will win scrappy and sometimes you will win good, but you just have to make sure (you) grind it out and apply pressure on the other team, and do your basics well.”
* Snyman has picked up an injury and has been ruled out of the clash against the Sharks.@ockertde