New DHL Stormers lock Ruben van Heerden is excited for the opportunity to prove himself against the Cell C Sharks in Durban on Saturday.
It’s been a whirlwind couple of weeks for the 25-year-old, who made his debut for the DHL Stormers off the bench in a defeat to Ulster last Friday, having joined the team on a short-term deal from English club Exeter Chiefs a week earlier.
Van Heerden already feels “right at home” with the defending Vodacom URC champions, and can’t wait to play his first game back in the Republic in a mouth-watering derby at Hollywoodbets Kings Park.
“It’s been a hectic few weeks, very busy, and once I left my club in England I got the opportunity to join the DHL Stormers and I was definitely very keen on doing so,” he said.
“I’ve been following the team over the last few years and you can really tell from the outside looking in that it is a good place to be. Everyone seems happy, playing a great brand of rugby, and obviously being the Vodacom URC champions.
“There’s a really good vibe and culture; everyone made me feel welcome and I felt right at home from my first day.”
Thrown straight into action in Belfast, Van Heerden is champing at the bit to further showcase his hard graft, brute force and athleticism in the DHL Stormers pack.
“Last week’s result didn’t go our way but it was good getting onto the field and making my DHL Stormers debut,” he said. “I had to learn the lineouts from scratch, a new game plan, but everyone has been really helpful.
“I believe I’ve got it all down and I’ll keep on building from here. I’d love to just add value wherever I can now.
“I need to show a high workrate and my physicality has to be right up there, as well as my core fundamentals like my athleticism, lineout, breakdown work and scrummaging.
“But I believe that if I get the opportunity to show what I have to offer on the field, I’d be happy to do so.”
Van Heerden, who spent four years at the Cell C Sharks, is also ready to step up and represent for The Faithful in the weekend’s coastal clash, regardless of the fact that both teams are missing their Springbok stars.
“I’ve been on the other side of this derby at Kings Park and it’s going to be good … also quite ironic that my first game back in SA is against my old team,” he said.
“We’re expecting it’s going to be a hot one, with a 2pm kickoff in January in Durban. It’s going to be a tough match, whether the Boks are there or not.
Van Heerden added: “Every game is an opportunity for me to step up and win the respect of my new teammates and coaches. I never thought I’d ever get to play for the DHL Stormers, and now that the opportunity has presented itself, I’ll be out to make the most of it.
“I’m happy to don the blue jersey and make the people of Cape Town proud,” he said.