'I was really humbled': Pierre Schoeman details development in scrum as he gears up to face Malherbe and Kitshoff with Edinburgh Rugby

South Africa may have a formidable reputation as a scrummaging nation but Pierre Schoeman says he had his eyes opened when he left his homeland for Edinburgh in 2018.

Frans Malherbe helped South Africa defeat the Lions last summer. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
Frans Malherbe helped South Africa defeat the Lions last summer. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

The popular loosehead was taken aback by the emphasis placed on the set-piece at his new club and quickly had to get up to speed. He duly did so and has long since cemented his place as a cornerstone of the Edinburgh scrum.

Schoeman will return to South Africa next week where he will have the chance to put his enhanced skills to the test against some of the world’s best when Mike Blair’s side take on the Stormers.

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The United Rugby Championship quarter-final pits the capital side’s front row against Frans Malherbe and Steven Kitshoff, Springbok behemoths who had the measure of the British & Irish Lions last summer. In between is hooker Scarra Ntubni and the trio form a unit which proved too strong for Glasgow Warriors recently, helping the Stormers win 32-7.

Edinburgh's Pierre Schoeman in action against the DHL Stormers during the 20-20 draw at the DAM Health Stadium in October. (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)

Edinburgh held their own against the Stormers earlier in the season, drawing 20-20 at the DAM Health Stadium, but Malherbe and Kitshoff were conspicuous by their absence on that occasion due to international commitments.

“These big games, these quarter-finals when you go head to head against the big names, these are the occasions you want to play in,” said Schoeman.

“Steven Kitshoff speaks for himself, he is going really well. Scarra Ntubeni is a great scrummager and Frans Malherbe gets paid the big bucks because he’s a good tighthead.

“And Neethlng Fouche [another tighthead] has done very well this season. In the game at the DAM Health the set-piece was on point.

Springboks prop Steven Kitshoff is likely to be in the Stormers side which will take on Edinburgh next week. (Photo by Matt Roberts/Getty Images)

“But we also put a lot of work and emphasis into our set-pieces ad for me it’s all about the team and going there as a unit and putting in a massive performance in the set-piece, and not making it an individual battle. But personally it is nice to go not only against big names but world class players. It’s how you want to measure yourself. That’s why we all play, train and try to get better.”

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Schoeman has improved year on year with Edinburgh and was rewarded earlier this month with a new long-term contract but he says it has been a steep learning curve.

“When I left the Bulls to join Edinburgh, I felt like I really could scrum, like I was almost a complete player, but then I was really humbled by the massive emphasis on set-pieces,” he said. “I had to learn a lot, mentality-wise and working with scrum specialists to do the job and do it bloody well, because one off moment can put your team on the back foot and be a major shift in the game.”

Schoeman is under no illusions about what to expect in the match in Cape Town a week on Saturday.

“There will be a big emphasis on the set-piece battle. They’ll be physical. It’s also an opportunity for us as a team to exploit. We learned a lot from that 20-all game and we believe we could’ve beaten them that day at the DAM Health Stadium.

“They’ve grown as a team but we’ve grown a hell of a lot as a team as well and it’s something we take confidence from.”

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