Durban – He might be a new
face for the Sharks, but Willie le Roux is no newcomer to the South African
rugby landscape and is quickly proving to be a valuable member of the team, one
who embraces his position and in turn has been welcomed with open arms.
“I’ve settled in here nicely,
there’s a good vibe in the squad, it’s something new for me with new team-mates
but I’m excited about the season ahead,” he told the Sharks’ official website.
“I want to make an impact here at the Sharks and we’ve had a good start so far
after two matches.”
Adapting to the conditions in
Durban at this time of year is never easy and expansive rugby has rarely been
employed at Kings Park with great reward in the summer months when
ball-handling is so difficult.
“Saturday’s match against the
Jaguares was tough but I thought we handled it well under pressure and came
through with a win.
“It was really difficult
though, I must admit. The ball was wet and slippery at that time and handling
of the ball was not easy. We managed to throw the ball around, but they’re also
a good off-loading team and fortunately our defence held out.”
As a player known for wanting
to take on the opposition, does he have license from the coaches to attack from
the back, or is there a set plan to play to?
“I think the coaches back me
to try things or they wouldn’t have signed me,” he laughs. “They leave it in my
hands to play the ball where I see the space, within the structures of the game
plan. But we also back our defence, and when there’s turnover ball, then it’s
time to play. That’s what we like and everyone really switches on.”
Talking of backing his style,
he agrees that his move to the Sharks was based on the fact that he wouldn’t be
playing a completely different style of rugby in Durban to what he was used to
in Bloemfontein with the Cheetahs.
“Although most of the teams
play the same way, here at the Sharks it is more similar and it’s been easy
fitting in here, I’m enjoying it.”
And although he is known for
his attacking prowess, he acknowledges that defence is just as important,
especially if it leads to turnovers and opportunities to counter, which is the
most dangerous form of attack a team has in its arsenal.
“We call Tuesday training
sessions ‘Test Match Tuesdays’ because of all the tackling we have to do,” he
says. “You have to back your defence on game day because everyone wants to get
their hands on that turnover ball, that’s the best opportunity to attack from.
“Everyone has been working
hard on defence ever since the pre-season, and our defence has gone pretty well
in the first two games.”
After the first couple of
rounds of Super Rugby, the Stormers this Saturday present a massive challenge
for the Sharks, something that excites the Springbok fullback.
“This weekend is a huge derby
against the Stormers down in Cape Town. It’s going to be a big one and I’m
looking forward to it. I rate Cheslin Kolbe (his opposite number for the
Stormers); he’s a great attacking player and they have a few new, young players
as well who just want to play, and will be told by the coaches to play what
they see. I don’t expect they will go into their shells, they will want to
“They will have real
attacking threats out wide and we will have to be on our best, defensively,