Taking over the leadership of the soaring DHL Stormers in their dogfight against Scarlets, Ernst van Rhyn has shown himself to be a sturdy and reliable leader in the engine room.
In the absence of teammates Salmaan Moerat and Marvin Orie, who are both on national duty, Van Rhyn will lead the DHL Stormers out when they resume their Vodacom United Rugby Championship campaign against Welsh outfit Scarlets at the DHL Stadium.
A qualified pilot, Van Rhyn has flown under the radar after serving under the tutelage of former DHL Stormer and 2019 World Player of the Year Pieter-Steph du Toit.
Like Du Toit, the 25-year-old Van Rhyn came through the DHL Western Province youth ranks and can double as both a lock and a flank.
“It was a massive privilege to be in his company and to be at the same union that Pieter-Steph is,’ Van Rhyn said. “He was player of the year. I have had so many interactions with him.
“I am trying to do everything I can from my side to make the team better. I am trying to make sure that I give healthy competition. It is a big privilege and I am enjoying the game time.”
Last season, Van Rhyn proved himself to be a valuable asset for the DHL Stormers, stepping up as a leader in the absence of Steven Kitshoff. This was recognised in the annual Western Province Awards evening, when he took the Beyond Rugby Award powered by SunBet for leadership on the field, off the field, outreach and representation of the DHL Stormers brand.
Having previously skippered the 2015 SA Schools and 2017 Junior Springbok teams, Van Rhyn has proven his leadership attributes.
His ability as a utility forward makes him a key element of the DHL Stormers’ version of the “Bomb Squad” and allows head coach John Dobson to implement the six-two split between forwards and backs on the bench.
With Moerat and Orie overseas, the unheralded Van Rhyn will get another opportunity to show his value in a workmanlike second row alongside Gary Porter, who will be making his DHL Stormers debut.
A silent leader, Van Rhyn prefers to let his actions on the field do his talking. His hard graft during matches often allows the players outside him to do the flashier stuff that grabs the headlines.
Against Scarlets, the DHL Stormers will once again call on the ever-reliable Van Rhyn to power the pack in a set-piece showdown at DHL Stadium.