- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
EDINBURGH forwards coach Stevie Lawrie has praised Pierre Schoeman for demonstrating to his team-mates what world-class looks like, and he has backed the talismanic loose-head prop to play the full 80-minutes if required against a formidable Stormers scrum in next Saturday’s win-or-bust United Rugby Championship play-off clash in Cape Town.
With back-up loose-head Boan Venter injured, Edinburgh are relying on Harrison Courtney – a rookie at pro level – as Schoeman’s understudy. Courtney had a torrid experience against Wasps in only his second start for the club earlier this month and had to be replaced by Schoeman before half-time.
The 25-year-old New Zealander was then an unused sub in Edinburgh’s only match since that defeat, with Schoeman playing the full 80 minutes against Glasgow last weekend.
Schoeman – who is from South Africa but qualifies to play for Scotland through the three-year residency rule – has had a huge workload over the course of this season. He has played nine games (seven starts) for Scotland and 17 games (14 starts) for Edinburgh in one of the most physically demanding positions on the park.
Lawrie recognises that he and his fellow coaches must be careful not to ask too much of the player just because he is willing to sacrifice his body for the team, but conceded that there is a good chance Schoeman will be asked to play the whole match again next Saturday, against a formidable Stormers pack which is anchored by Springbok props Steven Kitshoff and Frans Malherbe.
It will be a big ask, but the sort of challenge the player is bound to relish, especially as it is up against his countrymen.
“Pierre is someone who wants to be playing every minute, so we’ve had to manage him a little bit more, especially now he’s playing international rugby this season,” said Lawrie. “We’ve given opportunities to other players as we recognise it’s important that we don’t burn him out.”
“We started Harrison against Wasps and he’s had involvement against Glasgow and other games, but we’ve got to expect he’ll need time to develop. He’ll likely be on the bench and will get gametime where appropriate.
“With Pierre, you see – touch wood – how robust that individual is. He’s someone who can go the distance, so I’d expect him to go 80 minutes [if required next weekend].
“The Stormers have got a really good scrum, they’re patient and there’s lots of weight in there,” Lawrie added. “So, we’ve been looking at strategies to try to nullify that. We’ll take pointers from Scarlets who did a really good job against them last weekend.”
While Schoeman’s set-piece solidity and dynamism with ball in hand are huge assets, Lawrie believes that the 28-year-old’s work-rate and relentlessly positive attitude are the characteristics which really set him apart from the pack.
And he argues that the emergence of former Edinburgh prop Rory Sutherland as a British and Irish Lions tourist last summer is an example of how Schoeman helps bring the best out of those around him.
“For me, a guy like Pierre Schoeman is world class,” said the former hooker. “He came into this environment and allowed everyone else to see what world class looks like. And that rubs off on other players.
“Rory Sutherland is where he is because of Rory Sutherland. It’s key to say that. But having Pierre pushing and improving him was also a massive factor. It’s the same for Venter and any of the Scottish guys coming through the club at the moment. To see how this guy goes in every training session and every game – he's mad for it … absolutely mad for it.
“He’s got something in him that drives him every day. Our training on Tuesday is pretty heinous but he’ll go from mobility into weights into a watt bike session into a rugby session into scrum-specific stuff and just eats it up. And that rubs off on the other days.
“I believe guys like Pierre who have come from South Africa add massive value as they allow the others to see what world class and that hunger looks like.”
Edinburgh drew 20-20 with Stormers when the two sides met at the DAM Health Stadium in October, but the South African franchise – who are currently on an eight-match unbeaten streak –will be a much tougher proposition this time round, when they will be on home soil and have their internationalists back from Rugby Championship duty.
“They obviously did well against Glasgow a few weeks back, winning quite handsomely, but in the other games they have been run close,” concluded Lawrie. “So, we’ll look at what opportunities there were when the likes of the Bulls and Leinster went to Cape Town.
“One thing we know already is that you don’t want to be giving lots of turnover ball or making loose kicks because they’ve got such a threat in the back three.”