Cape Town - Brok Harris is nearing his 38th birthday and has already taken a few steps to his next rugby calling – but he can still play an important role for the Stormers on the pitch in Sunday’s United Rugby Championship (URC) clash against Glasgow Warriors (kick-off 5pm).
The veteran prop was spotted in the coaches box during a recent match, and it is part of his growth off the field on the path to becoming part of the team management.
“That was always my intention ... When I eventually finish playing, I will definitely try to go into the coaching side of it. That’s the plan, and it’s actually nice to have one foot in the coaching camp and one in the playing camp – I am really enjoying it at the moment,” Harris said this week.
But with games coming thick and fast in the URC and Champions Cup – not to mention the Currie Cup later in the year – Harris’ journey on the pitch is still on the go.
He only came on in the 68th minute of last Saturday’s 40-8 win over the Lions in Cape Town in replacing captain Steven Kitshoff, but following the marathon journey to Scotland this week, Harris may get more game-time from coach John Dobson at Scotstoun Stadium.
The scrums could become tasty, with a number of players with South African links among the Glasgow forwards – such as Oli Kebble, Allan Dell, Sintu Manjezi, Nathan McBeth and JP du Preez – while Scotland Test lock Richie Gray is a top-class line-out jumper, too.
“If there isn’t an edge, then it isn’t rugby. With Oli there, I think they have a very good scrum. They do play regularly on the artificial surface, which is different to playing on normal grass. But we have put a few things in place to get that edge on them,” Harris said.
“The most important thing when playing on an artificial pitch is to win the speed of the engagement. That pitch doesn’t allow you to ‘recover’ as such like on a grass pitch, so the focus will definitely be on being quick on the mark in the scrums.
“In that one scrum, the Bulls were just better than us, and we will accept that. But we went back to what we do and our processes, and it was much better last weekend against the Lions.
“In terms of the line-outs, Glasgow is one of the top contesting sides in the competition, so we will definitely have to consider our options well. At least there won’t be any grass-burns, as it rains all the time here ...”
Harris played over 100 games for the Dragons of Newport in Wales, and will be familiar with the 4G pitch that is also in use this weekend.
That experience will be valuable for the Stormers as he can advise the younger players about what to expect on Sunday.
“The stadium’s pretty decent. Back in the day, it was still grass, and with all the rain and not much sun, it was a bit soggy. But they changed it to an artificial 4G (pitch), so the field won’t be a problem,” Harris said.
“Also, I think mentioning Franco (Smith, Glasgow coach) … He will like to give the ball a little bit of air, and that suits us. So, in terms of the field, really nice field – we can’t control the conditions, but at least it won’t be a muddy field.
“It’s always nice to see new places, and especially for some of the youngsters, it’s their first tour for the Stormers, and some of the guys haven’t been to Glasgow.
“But today, we just want to recover. The travel is never easy: three flights, and travelling more than two days.”