Groom the pass master

PUBLISHED: March 14, 2015

Nic Groom’s dynamic play at scrumhalf has been integral to the DHL Stormers’ early success in their 2015 Vodacom Super Rugby campaign.

No rugby conversation with Nic Groom ever leaves you unsatisfied because his understanding of the game extends so far beyond the obvious.

Apart from scrumhalf play, he has a solid grasp of group dynamics, and it’s no surprise when he stresses the importance of the team culture that has played a significant part in allowing a young DHL Stormers side to flourish.

“Much of it has to do with the environment we strive to create. We’re trying to create leaders rather than followers. The needs of the team and organisation are elevated far beyond that of any individual,” he says.

“Everyone within the organisation has a responsibility and there is no preferential treatment for anyone. We’ve made a concerted effort to get things right off the field in terms of our group dynamic and organisational environment.

“You know things are going well when players with little experience are capable of producing the goods. That is the key to what we have been trying to achieve as a group.”

Having established himself as the DHL Stormers’ first-choice scrumhalf, Groom has showed increasing maturity at the base of the scrum.

“I think I’ve used all my experience,” he says.

“There are things I’ve picked up along the way that I’ve incorporated into my game. I’m striving for the best balance in my play. Perhaps in the past I might have overdone certain things and wasn’t good enough at others.”

While Groom is steeped in a culture of playing with the ball rather than putting the boot to it, he has also gained a better appreciation of tactical kicking.

“I never said I don’t like kicking or don’t see the importance of it. I just felt there are better opportunities with the ball in hand. That is the way I grew up playing. It’s not that I don’t value kicking,” he says.

“I have come to see the value of kicking in terms of managing my game and a forward pack. There are crucial times when the team isn’t ready to run, or you can reward the defence with a kick that allows you to play in the right area.

“As I’ve gained experience, I’ve also seen how kicking can offer a real attacking opportunity as opposed to being a way of giving up attack. It’s using your boot to create another attacking opportunity elsewhere on the field.”

Apart from his decent service and kicking game, Groom’s quick thinking was a big asset and crucial in emboldening DHL Western Province on attack in last year’s triumphant Absa Currie Cup campaign.

Of course, pragmatism is required in Vodacom Super Rugby, but Groom thinks it’s important that the DHL Stormers build on what was achieved.

“As a team, we get our energy from taking risks,” he says.

“Obviously, we’re all aware that we’re playing a different competition with much stronger opponents. But we can’t afford to lose the positive mindset and that ambition. That is what makes us special and very dangerous.

“It’s about getting the balance right and maturing in areas that will allow us to really express ourselves.”

Apart from his potential as a player, there has been a great deal of appreciation for Groom as a leader since he arrived at the WP Rugby Institute after completing his schooling at Rondebosch Boys’ High School.

It’s a quality that is increasingly evident.

“You’re not a leader because of a list of deeds and I don’t think your role changes,” he says.

“I think true leadership is what you leave behind, how you deal with the young guys, how you help other people and how you serve your teammates. That is the way I have always carried myself and plan on doing so in the future.”

Groom has also enjoyed settling back into a familiar combination with flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis, which stretches back to their days with the UCT Ikey Tigers.

“Dim and I have played loads of games together and we know one another’s strengths. That understanding makes things a lot easier,” he says.

Nevertheless, there is an appreciation that the DHL Stormers still have a long way to go.

“We’ve created a good identity as a team and are working towards getting the balance right,” he says. “We can always improve in terms of capitalising on our opportunities and becoming more mature as a unit.

“Once we get that right, we will be hard to beat.”

uGroom usondele kwiphupho lwakhe

Nokuba kuthiwa amathuba wokwenza iqhela lesizwe iSpringboks eliya kwindebe yomhlaba ekupheleni konyaka aphelile, uNic Groom uzixelela ukuba akazunikezela ade afezise iphupho lakhe.

Elophupho lokwenza iqhela leSpringboks liyasondela ukufezekeni kwaye ingayinto eyenzeka kulo nyaka ngendlela le uGroom adlala ngayo kwi Super Rugby yakulonyaka.

Iyamnceda uGroom into yokuba iqhela lakhe iStormers zingekabetwa kwimidlalo emine ngoku nokuzinza kwabo encocoyini yetafile yeSuper Rugby emva ngomdlalo wabo neSharks kuleveki iphelileyo.

uGroom uzibonakalise ukwazi ukudibanisa umdlalo wokududula kwamadoda aphaya phambili emngqushweni nowa madoda aphaya emva engumsebenzi wabo ukuzingela amanqaku amahlanu ngoku lala ekalikeni.

Umsebenzi wescrumhalf akajongeki enzima kodwa ukuba alukho uvanano kwamadoda aphambili nalawo asemva, kulula ukuba iqhela liphalale lingakwazi ukuphumelela.

Kulonyaka lowakwa Groom uzibonakalise ukusebenzisa amava eminyaka emine eqithileyo athewayiqokelela ukusukela umdlalo wakhe wokuqala kwiSuper Rugby ngo2011.

Eyonanto ebalulekileyo kumdlalo wescrumhalf kukwenza izigqibo ezizo nceda iqhela ukuya phambili nokuphumelela, nguye kelowo umsebenzi uGroom awenze ngokuzimisela kwaye wamenza waqhama kuzozonke iscrumhalf kumaqhela alapha ekhaya.

Ukuba ngokwenene iStormers ziyakwazi ukuqhubeka ngokudlala oluhlobo baqhale ngayo kulonyaka, asikho isizathu sokuba bangayiphumeleli indebe yeSuper Rugby kwaye singekho isizathu sokuba lo wakwaGroom angalifezi uphupho lwakhe lokumela ilizwe lakhe kwindebe yomhlaba ekupheleni konyaka.

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