The biggest pest in World Rugby plays for the Sharks and he will be at Newlands on Saturday

IT was a mark of respect towards Springbok fullback Willie le Roux that he was just about marked out of the Springbok World Cup campaign last year but the former Cheetah is determined to defy kamkikazi defenders zoning in on him in this year’s Super Rugby.

Willem Jacobus, originally from the Western Cape and a Boland player before moving to Griquas, exploded onto the international scene in 2013 and by 2014 was described by Wales coach Warren Gatland as “the biggest pest in rugby”.

Le Roux was a big name signing for the Sharks this year and at 26 he still has the world at his dancing feet. He has just had to choose the right ball with which to attack, he says.

“The Sharks coaching staff have given me a license to attack from the back, I guess that is why they signed me,” Le Roux smiled yesterday ahead of the Sharks’ trip to Newlands on Saturday to play the Stormers.

Both sides are unbeaten after two rounds and the match is the first of a fortnight of massive derbies against South African opposition – next week the KZN team play the Bulls at Loftus.

“The coaches leave it to me to attack as I see fit,” he said. “If I see space I must go for it otherwise it is about sticking to the structures, backing our defence, and waiting until turnover ball arises. That is what I thrive on, that is when the whole backline knows to switch on because it is time to play!”

Last year, Le Roux was part of a Cheetahs team that was one of the most attacking in the competition but which also leaked the most tries, by some margin. That is why they finished bottom of the log.

“The Sharks play a similar style to the Cheetahs but then all the South African teams are playing attacking rugby this year. It is always first and foremost a physical battle up front and then everyone wants that turnover ball because that is the best possession with which to attack. It is when you can be most dangerous.”

Le Roux has arrived in Durban from a Cheetahs team that was atrocious on defence last year and he has run into the Sharks’ new defence coach, the uncompromising Omar Mouneimne.

“We call Tuesdays ‘Test match Tuesday’ here at the Sharks because we know we are going to have tackle each other to a standstill,” Le Roux said with a mixture of a grimace and a smile. “There is a huge focus on defence and that will also have its benefits on attack because often that is where you get that turnover ball.

“We saw that intensity on defence in France and in the first two games of Super Rugby,” he added.“We mostly kept out the Jaguares apart from those two tries they got from, well, turnovers but otherwise we defended really well against a very dangerous team.”

Le Roux has already notched up 34 Test caps for the Boks, with nine tries and many more try assists, but he is insistent that he not a senior at the Sharks.

“I don’t know that I qualify to call the shots just yet,” he said with some embarrassment. “When we are on the field, it is rugby mode, we play what we see, and if something is on I call it and the guys do listen to me and appreciate my input, but really I don’t see myself as a senior Shark.”

By Mike Greenaway

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About Martin Myers
Music Supervisor / Artist and Talent Manager / Publicist / Music Exchange Founder / Owner Triple M Entertainment

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