Cape Town — Hailing from Belhar and growing up playing youth rugby for Western Province, Marvin Orie would have been dreaming of featuring for the Stormers one day.
But it didn’t quite work out initially, as he was snapped up by the Bulls despite forming a dynamic lock pairing with one Eben Etzebeth at Tygerberg High School in Parow, Cape Town.
Orie then moved on to the Lions, where he eventually became a Springbok, but at the height of the Covid-19 lockdown in 2020, he made his way back home to the Cape.
Now he has come full circle as he will captain the Stormers in tonight’s United Rugby Championship clash against Ulster in Belfast (9.35pm SA time kickoff).
“I am very excited, and for me it’s more excitement than pressure. Some of the guys haven’t played for a long time, but it’s exciting to play with such a group, and I want to see what they can do in the game. I also want to have a good game in terms of my performance,” the Bok No 5 said from Northern Ireland on Thursday.
“It was weird that when I played for the Bulls and Lions, I always had better games against the Stormers or WP. And to now play for the Stormers, I am very proud. I am from the Cape, and it’s something I’ve always wanted to do before I finish my career.
“That it came so early, I am very grateful. All that bad blood is now out and we are all friends! I hope so!
“The Stormers must be one of the top sides in South Africa and the world, and I always saw the potential myself, and have tried to help the group to achieve that. Everyone involved with the Stormers can still take it to even greater heights — the possibilities are endless for the Stormers… .”
Orie fulfilled one of his schoolboy goals when he partnered Etzebeth in a Test match last year, while he also played a vital part in the Stormers’ march to the URC title.
He is an expert line-out jumper, has a relentless work rate, and drives the standards in the Stormers pack.
“I can claim it now and say we always saw it. But what I did see in Marvin is that we always rated him highly. Whenever we played against him, he did play well against us and is so competitive,” coach John Dobson said.
“Marvin Orie was something that we had to address in the pre-match prep. I knew he was a really good player, and for me, what was important is that he came from us — he is part of us. He came from Belhar, and that’s the important part of our story.
“Perhaps what I didn’t realise is Marvin’s professionalism — you don’t see that from the outside. I knew he was good in the line-outs and that he was a good player, and I knew he was a good guy. We did our research…
“He has changed us a lot in that respect — the guys knowing their detail, their huddle work. Marvin is a guy of standards. He is not happy if somebody doesn’t know their stuff is not going to work, and another guy who has brought that to the team is Manie Libbok in the backline play.
“He is really sharp on detail and talks about rugby a lot. Marvin won’t wrap up a training or line-out session if he is not happy with the standard we’ve got.
“One of the things that Marvin — and one or two of the other guys that came in — has brought a real professionalism to this group that perhaps hadn’t existed before. I think he is one of the reasons why we got more successful.
“He is a really high-standards guy, and from my side, I want to express my gratitude to him because even though we are obeying the Springbok resting protocol, he has put in an incredible amount for us.
“I think lesser people or people more selfish would have bailed or asked (for a break). But he has come on this trip and is highly focused, and we are grateful. He is a leader who demands really good standards, whether that’s at training or whatever.
“It’s good for a young group to see this sort of real standards and professionalism, as well as the passion he has for the team.”
But before Orie can join some of his teammates such as Steven Kitshoff, Frans Malherbe and Damian Willemse in taking a deserved break, he needs to inspire his team one more time in what will be a tough encounter against Ulster in a cold Belfast.
One of the highlights will be the No 8 battle between Evan Roos and Duane Vermeulen, while Orie will have his work cut out against Australian lock Sam Carter too.
“I obviously can’t tell that to you now (how the Stormers plan to stop Vermeulen)! But Sam Carter is a good player… I used to play against him when I was at the Bulls. There were a few international games he’s played for Australia, so he is an experienced player,” the 29-year-old No 5 said.
“And Duane is a world-class player, and I’ve played with and against him also back in South Africa. We’ve made some plans for Duane, as he is a key player for Ulster.
“But it would be a mistake to focus on just one player, as Ulster are a quality team with a lot of quality players.
“It’s (setting up mauls) actually almost all they do from line-outs, so we knew this a while ago and saw it in the previous games against them. Hopefully we can sharpen up on our discipline, which is what gives them line-outs and 22-metre entries.
“But if they do have mauls, we have planned well and can stop them there.”