PRETORIA – Ask anyone outside of Loftus Versfeld about Marco van Staden, pictured, and chances are in your favour that they will be in the dark about him.
But the live-wire loose-forward is fast making a name for himself around the capital and after this weekend against the Stormers in Cape Town, Van Staden could well be known by everyone in South African rugby.
Van Staden has been one of the finds of the season for the Bulls and has justified his place in the starting XV by putting in some big performances the last three weeks.
And tomorrow will be another opportunity for Van Staden to measure himself against one of the best loose forwards in the country ... Siya Kolisi.
“It is nice to measure yourself against the best and the No 1 six flank in South Africa, (Kolisi) is also the Springbok flank. It is nice to test yourself against the best and know where you stand,” said Van Staden, who is known as “Eskom” amongst his teammates for tackling the lights out of his opposition during his Varsity Cup days.
Even though the Bulls lost their last outing against the Highlanders at home, Van Staden says they will not change anything in the way he or the team plays.
“I don’t think I will change anything, I will just stick to the structures that coach has put in place for us in the team. And we must keep on doing what we have been doing because it seems to be working,” Van Staden said.
The 22-year-old Van Staden has all but come out from the dark to force himself into the Bulls Super Rugby team and through sheer hard work, the former Hoerskool Bekker (in Magaliesburg) pupil could easily be one of those thunderbolt names in a future Springbok team if he continues to produce the goods.
Van Staden admits that his meteoric rise through the ranks in Blue Bulls rugby has come as a surprise but having played no representative rugby throughout his school days and at junior level, Van Staden says all he has relied on has been hard work.
After being rejected by Pukke, Van Staden joined the Tuks Rugby Academy four years ago and through tireless toil managed to catch the eye of now Bulls Super Rugby forwards coach Pote Human.
“Ja, I have definitely been surprised. I think everything started for me in the Currie Cup when I got my gap there and coach Mitch gave me a chance. I just listened to him and progressed and improved myself to make the standards that he wants. I knew it was going to take a lot of hard work,” added Van Staden.
“It has always been my dream to play for the Springboks. I didn’t play at any representative level at school, so I knew I had to work very hard to get to the top. I think it is good because it taught me to work hard from the beginning.”
While Van Staden will be eager to shine in the spotlight at Newlands tomorrow, it will be his performance, along with that of his teammates that must shut the lights out at the home of the Stormers and power down Kolisi’s milestone game, if the Bulls are to remain relevant in the competition.
The Stormers starting XV:
SP Marais, Dillyn Leyds, JJ Engelbrecht, Damian de Allende, Raymond Rhule, Damian Willemse, Dewaldt Duvenage, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Kobus van Dyk, Siya Kolisi, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Chris van Zyl, Wilco Louw, Ramone Samuels, Steven Kitshoff;
Replacements: Scarra Ntubeni, JC Janse van Rensburg, Frans Malherbe, Cobus Wiese, Nizaam Carr, Paul de Wet Jean-Luc du Plessis, Seabelo Senatla.
The Bulls starting XV:
Warrick Gelant, Johnny Kotze, Jesse Kriel, Burger Odendaal, Divan Rossouw/Travis Ismaiel, Handre Pollard, Andre Warner, Thembelani Bholi/Marco van Staden, Jason Jenkins/Thembelani Bholi, Marco van Staden/Roelof Smit, Lood de Jager, RG Snyman, Trevor Nyakane, Adriaan Strauss, Lizo Gqoboka;
Replacements: Jaco Visagie, Frans van Wyk/Nqobisiwe Mxoli, Conrad van Vuuren, Hendre Stassen/Roelof Smit, Ivan van Zyl, Manie Libbok, Divan Rossouw/Travis Ismaiel