The prospect of Pierre Schoeman playing for Scotland at the next Rugby World Cup moved a step closer yesterday when the loosehead prop agreed a long-term extension to his Edinburgh contract.
Now 25, the South African signed a three-year deal with Richard Cockerill’s squad in the summer of 2018, and even then said his aim was to play for Scotland. To qualify, Schoeman needs to be resident here for at least five years, and although Edinburgh have not specified the length of the new deal, the head coach made it clear it will keep the forward here at least until he is eligible for the national team.
“Pierre is a very good player,” Cockerill said. “If he was Scottish-qualified now, I think he’d certainly be in the mix to play. He’ll be available for the next World Cup.
“My job is to keep the squad together and keep pushing the national cause as well as my cause for Edinburgh, so hopefully he’ll be here longer than me. We’re delighted to keep him. It shows that we’ve got good players who want to stay and the environment that we’re building. We’re two and a bit years into this, so we want to keep building and getting stronger and keeping our depth and so we’re doing everything we can to keep our best players.
“I’ve coached some good looseheads and played with some and he’s as good as any of those. Part of that is his playing skill, but his personality is also a big part of it and his work ethic too. He’s just a bloody good man who works really hard and who’s a very good player too so that’s all part of the package we’re getting.
“He’s very outgoing and he’s good for the culture, because he works very hard. He comes in every day with a smile on his face and treats everybody as equal whether you’re the intern or you’re the head coach. He works hard at his game and he takes criticism well. And he’s good fun – if you want to have some fun, in all the right ways, go out with Schoey.”
Born in Nelspruit in north-eastern South Africa, Schoeman has represented his native country at under-20 level. He settled quickly on moving to Scotland, rapidly becoming a favourite with the Edinburgh support thanks to his exuberant ball-carrying approach to the game, and explained yesterday that he plans to stay here for some time to come.
“I’m very excited to stay in Edinburgh,” he said. “It’s been a year and a half since I arrived and I’ve enjoyed it so much. It’s a very professional and hard-working team and I’m incredibly excited for a long future at the club. The environment here brings the best out of me.
“It was a really easy decision for me. Scotland is a beautiful country, and for me and my wife, we want to build a future here. I can’t wait to contribute to the success of this team.”
Schoeman started in Edinburgh’s league win at Munster last week and is expected to be involved again on Friday, when they are at home to Wasps in the Challenge Cup. After being sidelined by a quad strain for a few weeks, winger Darcy Graham will also be in the line-up for that match in what will be his first involvement since the World Cup. WP Nel, however, will have to wait another week before making his own comeback from a calf injury.
“He won’t play this week,” Cockerill said of the tighthead prop. “He’s training fully this week and he’ll be available for next weekend. Darcy will start on Friday.”