Twin focus for Springbok Schreuder

Monday 02 August 2021 Written by: Adam

The series comes to a head on Saturday in Cape Town when the world champions and the Lions fight it out one last time, and Springbok Schreuder is backing his boys to get the job done.

“I’m just glad it’s come down to a decider, because the third test as a dead rubber one way or the other wouldn’t have made for a great spectacle,” said the 31-year-old, who was capped by South Africa in 2017.

“It definitely makes it interesting for both sets of supporters.”

Despite being 8,400 miles from home Schreuder remains a proud supporter of the rainbow nation, and will again be cheering them on this weekend despite finding himself in the significant minority.

He explained: “I watched one test down at Northern Rugby Club in Newcastle and then the other at a pub in Jesmond, and that has been a lot of fun.

“It’s lekker [great] when you’re a South African watching the Springboks among a bunch of Englishmen, and I’ll try and watch this Saturday’s game somewhere with a few of the Falcons boys.”

Asked how he sees the decider panning out, Schreuder added: “The Springboks struggled in the first test, but with the way they played in the second and the momentum they now have, I think they will be too strong.

“What they do in terms of a game plan is very simplistic, but they do it incredibly well. It’s hard to break them down when they’re executing their style like that, and hopefully the Boks can pull it through for the series.”

Winning South Africa’s domestic Currie Cup competition three times before heading off to play in Japan and France, Schreuder is now gearing up for his second campaign in Falcons colours having made 18 appearances during 2020-21.

“I was happy with my first season in England, and I’m keen to go again,” he said, having just completed a backs skills session.

“We put in some strong performances towards the end of the season, I got a few games under my belt and felt good, but I think all the boys would agree we should have finished higher up the league table.

“It took me a few months to get used to the weather, the structures and the players around me here at the Falcons, but I think we ended strongly and have put in place some pretty good foundations for this coming season.

“Playing rugby in the snow was certainly a new one for me, coming from South Africa, but things like that are always a great learning experience and will ultimately make you a better all-round player.”

Basing himself in the UK all summer due to the ongoing travel restrictions, the Schreuder clan have taken the opportunity to explore some of the country during their time off.

“We would have liked to have gone back to South Africa and visited the family, but it was just too difficult, and in the end we decided to stay put for the summer,” he said.

“We travelled round the UK instead, going down to the south coast – places like Brighton, Bournemouth, Cornwall and the like. We’ve also got places like Edinburgh, York, Bamburgh Castle and Durham pretty much on our doorstep, which is awesome.

“When you get the opportunity to play in another country I think it’s important you get out there and have a look around – especially after a year and a half like we’ve just had, being stuck in the house for a lot of it. We like to travel around on weekends, and we’re keen to get up and explore the West of Scotland next when we get the opportunity.”

The months of summer graft are not a time beloved by all players as they lay the foundations for what is to come, but you will not find Schreuder complaining.

“This is my 10th or 11th pre-season, although with all the covid disruption I didn’t really get one last year,” he said.

“I know I need it, and it’s been great just to iron out a few niggles and get the work done. Obviously not all players enjoy it, and in some teams it can be a time for a lot of mindless running and gym work, but the great thing at the Falcons is we’ve had the rugby ball out early on and combined it with plenty of skills work.

“There’s a big difference between fitness and game fitness, and what I’m enjoying at Newcastle is the fact we’re putting a major focus on the latter.

“Obviously your body needs to be fit and strong enough to compete, but you need to sharpen up on your basic skills, and if ever there’s a time to do it then this is it. Once you’re into the season it’s just about maintenance and staying sharp, but pre-season is where the hard graft goes in.”

Having won their last three home games last season and claimed scalps including champions Harlequins, Schreuder believes there is even more to come from the class of 2021-22.

“Squad-wise, if anything, I think we’re stronger than last year,” he said.

“We’ve kept that core of guys who are all a year older and have improved as a group, and then alongside that stability you’ve got a few quality additions and depth. Adding key experienced players like Mike Brown into the system can only be good for us, and I’m looking forward to seeing what the new boys can do.”

Another grenade lobbed into the pre-season pot has been the law changes laid out by World Rugby, with the new 50-22 law among the major talking points – attacking teams being given the throw-in to the line-out if they kick the ball from inside their own half and bounce it into touch inside the opposition’s 22.

“We’ve seen those law changes popping up in the Australian and New Zealand Super Rugby competitions, so we’ve had a little look at them already,” explained the scrum-half.

“It’ll be fascinating to see how many teams actually use it and really try to put in some 50-22 kicks, but we’ve already spoken about it and have some plans in place from both the attacking and defensive sides.

“Hopefully it doesn’t change too much of the rugby we’re used to here because I think we play a good game, but from my own side it could mean a few tweaks on the tactical kicking side of things. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see how teams approach it.”