Pierre Schoeman targets ten more years and citizenship as he commits future to Edinburgh Rugby
The popular South African-born prop has put down roots in the capital and says he wants to repay the faith shown in him by the club.
Edinburgh coach Mike Blair has hailed Schoeman as one of the “world’s premier looseheads”, and the player has ambitions to mix it with the very best in the game.
The 28-year-old made his Scotland debut against Tonga in the autumn after fulfilling the three-year residency requirement and then played a key role in the Six Nations.
He said the compliment from his coach was flattering but knows he has to keep delivering for his club.
“Coming from Mike it’s a massive confidence booster but like Spiderman’s father said, it’s a great responsibility as well!” said Schoeman.
“I have ambitions to be one of the best looseheads in the world. I do follow the likes of Ellis Genge, Andrew Porter, Steven Kitshoff, Ox Nche – all the top looseheads. You want to be up with the best so every day you come in and you work hard but sometimes it’s mentality as well. It’s about being switched on.”
Edinburgh have not revealed the length of his contract but it is believed to be for at least three years. Schoeman and his wife Charissa came to Scotland in 2018 and have now bought a house in Edinburgh. They intend to apply for citizenship within the next couple of years.
The player was only 23 when he initially agreed to sign for Edinburgh but he insists he was always in it for the long haul. At the time of his joining, World Rugby had agreed to extend the residency requirement to play international rugby from three years to five. But the governing body took the decision to delay the change due to the “exceptional disruption” caused by Covid which meant Schoeman became eligible for Scotland after three years in Edinburgh. He describes it as “a miracle”.
“I always knew it would have taken maybe up to five years for me to play for Scotland which is massive motivation,” he said. “And then my wife had the faith and thought, ‘no man, let's hope for three years,' and it happened.
“It was not good that it happened during Covid but it was a blessing for me. I think I was the only player in the world who benefitted from it so we see it as a miracle, or a very lucky coincidence.
“To be brutally honest, I always knew it was going to be long term. But I have to say that in the first year, although I bought in and embraced the culture, it was still tough being away from home and the family. But then we realised we loved it incredibly much here.”
Props have a longevity which is almost unique in the game and Schoeman only needs to look to his team-mate WP Nel for inspiration. The fellow prop is still going strong for club and country at the age of 36 and Schoeman sees himself doing similar.
“I definitely will play another ten years,” he said. “I’m confident, come what may. There are a lot of players who have to stop through illness or concussion so, while you can do it, just go full out for it.
“My main thing is not to focus too much on the future yet. This deal will take my wife and me past citizenship - indefinite leave to remain and citizenship. She just finished a Masters at Queen Margaret University in strategic communications and public affairs. And we bought a house, so we’re really making Scotland our home.”
Schoeman’s popularity with the Edinburgh support has led to some good-natured ribbing from team-mates but the player revels in the chants of “Schooo” every time he gets the ball, even though he thought they were booing when he first heard them.
“I think at first it was a surprise. I think a lot of people on social media thought they were booing.
“It maybe sounded like boos when you played at Glasgow, at Scotstoun! But maybe when you play for Scotland it is the unification of the ‘schooo’ and the boo.
“I like being emotionally involved with the fans. You can have social media and mingling with the fans but it is about doing the job. That is the most important thing but it is nice to mingle with the fans and to have that real family bond, especially with the new stadium.
“It is not a cliche, this season has been great, the fans have bought in and it is working and we like interacting with the fans a lot. I don't see myself as a cult hero, but I like spending time with the fans.”
Schoeman says his first responsibility on the field remains the set-piece but the prop has been a dynamic presence in the loose for Edinburgh this season and Blair has been delighted with the player’s influence.
“We regard Pierre as one of world rugby’s premier looseheads and I think that’s been more evident than ever in his performances this season,” said the coach. “His work rate and ability in the loose are key to the way we play and he’s a real game-changer in the sense he can flip momentum with a brilliant piece of play or physicality.
“We love Pierre here and what’s great is that he’s really made Edinburgh his home. He’s embraced Scottish culture from the get-go and that’s showcased in the way he interacts with fans – they see him as one of their own because of the way he plays for the jersey.”
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