CAPE TOWN - Whether he plays at No 4 or 5 in Eben Etzebeth’s absence, it won’t be a big adjustment for JD Schickerling.
That’s what the promising Stormers second-row forward told the media during a press conference in Bellville on Tuesday.
Etzebeth was ruled out for four months with a shoulder injury last month - opening the door for another lock to come through and most likely pair with Pieter-Steph du Toit this Super Rugby season.
Schickerling played in the No 4 jersey a number of times during the Currie Cup season last year, running the lineout defence while Chris van Zyl - who captained the side - called the lineouts. And with Du Toit looking likely to be fit for the weekend following his pre-season niggles, it’s in the No 4 spot that Schickerling will probably find himself.
And now Schickerling - who is one of the Stormers’ most promising lock prospects for their 2018 Super Rugby campaign - is keen to “definitely use” his opportunity.
“It depends where the team needs me, I don’t mind playing four or five, as long as I can be of benefit to the team. I played at four a bit in the Currie Cup, so it’s not that big an adjustment for me.”
“Eben being out is a bad thing for us, he plays a key role, but if I do get an opportunity I will definitely use it,” Schickerling said.
Schickerling had a massive season with Western Province during their 2017 Currie Cup-winning campaign, and with his indefatigable work rate, his contribution to Province’s lineout work, his strong carries and those big hits, he played an instrumental role in a number of their matches.
His performances filled with those kinds of displays quickly caused the 22-year-old’s name to suddenly be an oft-mentioned one in rugby circles whenever player-to-watch discussions surfaced. And if the physical forward gets his way, he will take his Currie Cup efforts to another level this year.
“I have such a great opportunity playing with Eben and Pieter-Steph (du Toit), they boost me. We’ve got good depth in our team and the competition is always a good thing. The Currie Cup was a good platform for me to boost me for this year.”
There’s of course a lot of competition when it comes to the Stormers’ second-row options, with Salmaan Moerat, Jan de Klerk, Eddie Zandberg (and also Johan du Toit) waiting in line. And it’s competition that Schickerling is well aware of.
“I’ve dealt with him (Moerat) a lot - he’s such a great player coming through. We’ve got great depth in the lock position, and he’s someone to look out for. He’s a very good player. He’s a very good, hard No 4 lock, he’s got the size for it and he’s very tough.”
The Stormers kick off their campaing against the Jaguares on Saturday (3 pm), before heading to Australasia where they will meet the Waratahs, the Crusaders and the Highlanders.