Stormers’ Ernst van Rhyn must fill Pieter-Steph’s big boots
CAPE TOWN - There aren’t too many certainties in life, or in rugby, for that matter. But one of the definite ones is that if - as a player - a senior in your position becomes unavailable for whatever reason, you will seldom have a better chance to show what you can do than in his absence.
That is exactly the kind of mindset Ernst van Rhyn should, and probably will, have when the Stormers take on the Lions in their Super Rugby Unlocked opener at Newlands on Saturday (7pm kickoff).
The 23-year-old can play at lock and flank and is likely to start in the No 7 jersey this weekend - a number that World Rugby Player of the Year, Pieter-Steph du Toit, has made his own, both with the Stormers and Springboks.
Van Rhyn is one of the players Stormers forwards coach Rito Hlungwani earlier this year said could start looking forward to more game time, especially with the departure of Cobus Wiese to Sale Sharks.
The other youngsters who could put together more appearances now are guys like tighthead Neethling Fouche, especially with Wilco Louw now serving as scrum anchor with Harlequins, while Sazi Sandi is also in the mix to support World Cup-winner Frans Malherbe.
Lock David Meihuizen and loose forward Johan du Toit will also be eager for a chance. Van Rhyn has been in and out of the blindside jumper, and has produced solid performances for John Dobson’s team when he’s got a chance at No 7.
Earlier this week, assistant coach Dawie Snyman said that Du Toit is still recovering from the haematoma he sustained in their loss to the Blues back in February, confirming that he won’t be available for their first competitive game since rugby returned.
Van Rhyn started at blindside flank for the Stormers in their SuperFan Saturday win against the Lions, and while Du Toit’s absence is of course undesired, injuries happen and, as coaches always say, it gives another an opportunity to show what he has got.
And if Van Rhyn runs out in that position this weekend again as Du Toit’s replacement, it will be the perfect time for him to do just that.