Edinburgh loosehead prop Pierre Schoeman admits that he has found it tough going in recent weeks dealing with it being dark when he leaves home to go to training in the morning and dark again when he returns home at night.
But generally speaking he is a happy-go-lucky type of character so is making a pretty decent fist of focusing on the good things about living in Scotland.
“I do enjoy it here a lot, especially when it’s 3.30pm and it is dark already,” smiles the 25-year-old South African, whose social media pages are chock-a-block with posts of him exploring his current homeland during the two years since his arrival on these shores from Pretoria.
It is just as well that Schoeman is making the most of life in Scotland as he has made no secret of his desire to see out the five-year residency requirement so that he can eventually wear the thistle.
At least the fact that so many fellow South Africans are playing pro rugby in Europe at the moment means that he doesn’t feel completely alone in a foreign environment. For example, Friday’s Guinness Pro14 meeting against Munster at Irish independent Park in Cork offers an opportunity to catch up with one of the most significant figures of his early rugby career.
“I know their coach – Johann van Graan – quite well,” explained Schoeman. “He coached me when I was grade ten so that would make me 16-years-old back then. He coached my brother Juan, who plays for the Southern Kings, as well.
“He had a massive influence on my game. He was very good, very professional. He was with the Springboks [as forwards coach between 2012 and 2017] before coming over here, so he has been very successful, and you can see what he has brought to Munster. They have a very good kicking game and a very good set-piece as well.
“His dad – Barend – was CEO of the Bulls [where Schoeman played before joining Edinburgh in the summer of 2018], so there is quite a strong connection there,” added Schoeman.
Van Graan is not the only familiar face Schoeman expects to run into on Friday. “I also know a few of Munster’s players – Arno (Botha), Chris (Cloete) and Jean (Kleyn) – from back home,” he revealed. “Everywhere we play these days I would say there are a handful of South Africans that you have played against in Currie Cup or for your province. It is good to see so many familiar faces – not always enjoying the UK but playing in the UK.”
Edinburgh lost 44-14 to Munster in Cork almost exactly a year ago. It was closer when the two teams met at Murrayfield in the quarter-finals of the Champions Cup at the end of the season, although the Irish side did come out on top again on that occasion [13-17].
“Discipline is the key for us,” said Schoeman. “We have to be on it from the first scrum and maul, then all the way through the whole game. It is a battle of concentration. Even in the last minute you could lose or win the game.”