ROSSOUW De Klerk has revealed that big game hunting is the primary motive behind his move to Glasgow.
The 6’1” tight-head enjoyed a trophy laden five-year spell with South Africa’s dominant Blue Bulls, in which they won Super Rugby, Currie Cup and Vodacom Cup honours. The trophies dried up for De Klerk after he moved to the Free State Cheetahs in early 2013 and, with the prop always harbouring a desire to expand his horizons, the opportunity to join Gregor Townsend’s Glasgow on a two-year deal was too good to pass up.
The 24-year-old is hungry to administer a mauling to the Leinster front-row, with Ireland and British and Irish Lions loose-head Cian Healy very much in his sights ahead of Saturday’s Guinness Pro12 opener at Scotstoun.
“I have played in some very big games, but not that many for a while now,”said De Klerk. “Glasgow are a strong team who play good rugby, and I want to play in a side like that who play to win and are involved in the big games. I would say Saturday against Leinster certainly comes into that category. But a lot of the props at Glasgow are injured so there is an opportunity for me to make an impression right away. That is my intention.”
De Klerk will spend the remaining hours before Saturday’s game studying videos of Leinster’s scrum, and in particular, the technique of Healy, who looks set to pack down against him after he featured in Leinster’s final warm-up friendly against Ulster four days ago.
“I do not know much about Leinster,” said De Klerk. “But although I have not seen any of the video of the Pro12 final with Leinster last season, I started studying the loose-head prop (Healy) earlier this week to make sure my preparation, if selected, is perfect and nothing is left to chance.
“I know that it could be Cian Healy that I’m up against and clearly he is an Ireland international and a player with a big reputation in the European game and I will know a lot more about him by the time Saturday comes.
“Obviously Leinster have been one of the best teams in Europe in recent seasons and they are the defending champions of the Pro12 but for me none of that matters, it is about what they do on the pitch on Saturday that will count.
“It’s a new competition and a different year, so I don’t know about revenge for the final last season. But there is no question that if you beat the defending champions in front of your fans at home then it is a great start by any standard.”
Having come off the bench against Harlequins and started at London Scottish last weekend, where his solid scrummaging, powerful ball carrying and sprightly athleticism impressed, De Klerk is confident he is in the condition to make a thundering impact.
“It was a decent run out at London Scottish and it has been good preparation for the Leinster game,” he said.
“When you are this close to a new season you want to have had a run-out or two behind you and it was interesting testing myself against two different scrums and hopefully doing a solid job.
“I also got some good carries in these games and that is a strong part of my game.
“So I would say that I’m ready for the league campaign.”
Assessing the comparative merits of pre-season preparations in South Africa and Scotland, De Klerk said: “We spend more time here working on scrummaging than we do back home. I think that’s because it is a more forwards-orientated game because it is wetter. The pitches back in South Africa are harder and drier and so the ball is run a lot more, so I guess the scrum has added importance in the Northern Hemisphere.
“I have also learned a lot during the past four weeks from Euan Murray. We have worked closely together and he has been a big help.”