Van Heerden turning up the intensity

PUBLISHED: April 23, 2024

Ruben van Heerden says the focus this week is attitude and intensity as the hardworking DHL Stormers lock embraces the challenge of a massive clash with Leinster at DHL Stadium on Saturday.

A visit from eight-time champions Leinster after a narrow loss to Ospreys present the DHL Stormers with an opportunity for an emphatic rebound, and Van Heerden emphasised the importance of returning to winning ways with a huge performance.

“It’s absolutely crucial that we bounce back as a team, and as a forward pack this week. We have certain standards that we’ve set for ourselves and last week we slipped up. It sounds cliché but the only way to get over losing is by winning,” he said.

“I think the measure of a man is not what he does when he is winning but rather what he does when his back is against the wall, and our backs are against the wall and we have to fight now. And what an opportunity we have against Leinster this weekend.

“My advice to the guys is to not try and do anything fancy but play the rugby that the DHL Stormers are known for, and do the things that we do well, stay in the system and execute. We have to play to our strengths and if we do that with a bit of attitude and intensity, things will go well for us.”

Leinster will also be mustering a response after a heavy defeat to the Emirates Lions in Johannesburg, but Van Heerden believes that the DHL Stormers have structures in place for success.

“Leinster will be hurting after their loss against the Emirates Lions. They are going to want to rectify things that they got wrong, but so will we. We want to make things right,” he explained.

“It builds up to quite a dogfight, and the best way to gain an edge on them because they’re such a quality outfit is to not give them any breathing space.

“From the start we’re going to have to be over them, whether that’s in the set-pieces, defence or attack, and that comes down to the team that executes the best on the day.

“It’s going to come down to small margins and the team that wants it more, and it’s definitely going to be a titanic match and a very important game for our season. We’re looking forward to it and embracing the challenge.”

Van Heerden has been a pillar of strength for the DHL Stormers this season while honing his craft calling the lineouts. On the back of several standout performances, he earned his first call-up to a Springbok workshop in March.

“Being at the alignment camp was great and I came out of it more motivated than ever. It was great for me seeing what the environment is like and learning what they’re looking for as a player.

“My progression as a five lock has been good and again, I’d like to credit [Forwards Coach] Rito Hlungwani so much in regards to that. He is really my mentor in the lineouts and has been helping me a lot.

“So my focus is just to keep building and getting better and learning as much as I can, you can never stop learning.”