DURBAN – Run-on debuts for young South African hookers don’t get much better than outplaying the world renowned Springbok Malcolm Marx.
That’s how it was for 23-year-old Sharks hooker Kerron van Vuuren last Friday, when he rivalled sensational Curwin Bosch for the man-of-the-match award in their team’s 42-5 Super Rugby rout of the Lions.
To put the former Glenwood pupil’s performance into perspective, we should consider that only a few months ago he was seconded to the Kings to get some game time because he was surplus to the Sharks’ Currie Cup requirements, with Akker van der Merwe and Chiliboy Ralepelle on duty.
But with both of the above indisposed and Craig Burden injured, Van Vuuren found himself in the deep end at Ellis Park. And what a splash he made, topping the illustrious Marx in all departments.
He made 23m from nine carries – beating two defenders in the process – while also making a total of 11 tackles.
But he admits he went into the match with sweaty palms and loads of butterflies.
“I was a little overwhelmed,” Van Vuuren said yesterday.
“It was such an exciting and nervous moment, especially with having grown up as a Sharks supporter and always wanting to play for this union.
“It was a dream come true. Going up to Ellis Park and beating the Lions is such a tough task, so to win by that score-line was an absolute fairytale. It was very special.”
Van Vurren admitted that much of his nerves centred on playing the formidable Marx. “Obviously, it is always in the back of your mind, going up against a Bok hooker,” he said.
“I felt a lot of pressure, but I used it as motivation to bring the best out of myself.”
There was also the pressure of starting a SA derby at Ellis Park so soon in his fledgling career.
“It has happened in the blink of an eye,” Van Vuuren said.
“Fortunately I have always focused on having my basics and preparation right, so that when the moment came I could do my job well, I suppose, getting my big chance in Super Rugby is the culmination of a couple of years of paying my dues in the Under-19s and Under-21s, playing in the Rugby Challenge and then getting drafted to the Kings in the Currie Cup.
“I think I have gone through the right process and it is time for me to start stepping up into the big leagues.”
On Saturday it won’t get any easier for the youngster when he goes up against Argentine great Agustin Creevy.
“... That is perfect, I am really going to enjoy it. I will learn a lot, get the experience, but I will also come to the party and won’t let him off easily!”@MikeGreenaway67