JOHANNESBURG - Spare a thought for Bulls prop Pierre Schoeman. All of the 24 years he has been on this earth and in Pretoria, it has been his lifelong dream to play for the Bulls and the Springboks. But not all dreams come true. And this weekend against the Lions, Schoeman will walk away from his dream in his last match for the Bulls having become a Springbok.
As sad as it will be for Schoeman to put on the Bulls jersey for the last time since making his Super Rugby appearance two years ago, the former Affies blondie will embark on a new dream to play for Scotland when he joins Edinburgh. Schoeman admits that playing his last game for the only team he has played for since leaving school will be emotional but he could not have asked for a better team to play against then the Lions after putting in another big performance in his last game at Loftus Versfeld when the Bulls beat the Jaguares last weekend.
“Ja it is very emotional,” said Schoeman. “One thinks they can stay here for a hundred years but the opportunity ahead is very nice in my path and I have to take that and look to it. The Bulls have been great to me and every player here. It will be a special one to finish a game in South Africa playing against the Lions.”
The joker and musician of the team, Schoeman has come on in leaps and bounds this season under the mentorship of Bulls coach John Mitchell. It is the family environment and humility brought by Mitchell to the Bulls that Schoeman says he will miss the most. “I must say the Mitchell family feeling. It is something very special. You will never say thank you enough,” he said.
But before Schoeman departs for Scotland and to chase his new dream, he too wants to settle a few scores with the Lions after the Bulls were given a lesson in forward play the last time the two sides met at Loftus. The Bulls may have mounted a late comeback in that game but the damage had long been done by the Lions employing the rolling maul and getting dominance in the set-pieces and forward battles.
“I mean the set-pieces are going to be vital especially the scrums and they have a good maul as well as we saw in that first match at Loftus against them. But our preparation is spot on and we are looking forward to the challenge. Let’s call a spade a spade, it’s going to be tough and we are going to have to work for it,” Schoeman said.
And the toughness of this encounter will not only come from the Lions wanting to cement their place at the top of the South African conference but with them also bidding farewell to some of their stalwarts including Springbok prop Ruan Dreyer who is heading to England to join Gloucester. But the Bulls won’t allow sentiment and another team’s ambitions get in the way of them finishing off their season on their terms and Schoeman wants to lead the charge from the scrums in making his last game memorable.
“It is sentimental for guys like that playing their last Super Rugby game for a franchise they have been there for a long time. I think we’ve grown immensely as a pack and as a team especially this season with coach Mitch. We’ve done a lot of work since preseason especially in the scrum set-piece and we take a lot of confidence and pride,” said Schoeman.
For the moment, Schoeman is trying not to think about the five years he has spent at Loftus or the two years he played for the Junior Springboks and all that is occupying his mind now is how he will get the better of the Lions frontrow and add to the memories when he lived his dream out at the Bulls before joining Endinburgh.