Van Vuuren graduates to big time

PUBLISHED: March 27, 2014

DHL Stormers forward Jurie van Vuuren is one of 10 Western Province Rugby Institute graduates in the matchday 23 for this weekend’s Vodacom Super Rugby clash against the Reds in Brisbane.

But where has this spring-heeled forward been these past two years?

Well, Van Vuuren has been based at the WPRI in Stellenbosch since leaving school in 2011.

Having finished his schooling at Oakdale – in the SWD region – the 1,92m and 100kg forward packed his bags for the Cape and a chance at cracking the rugby big time.

His ascent has been swift, playing a key role for the title-winning DHL Western Province Under-19 and Under-21 teams in 2012 and 2013, before moving into the senior ranks this year – despite still being eligible for the WP Under-21 team in 2014.

Nazeem Adams coached Van Vuuren in 2012 and he told www.iamastormer.com: “Jurie has a big engine and a massive work-rate.

“You might not see him running with the ball in open play or throwing long passes off both sides but he hits his rucks, takes his line-out ball and is not afraid to put himself about.”

Adams’s summation is backed up by WPRI CEO Jacques Hanekom, who said with a smile: “Jurie has all the bulk and madness to develop into a top-quality No.4 lock!”

The jury is still out on whether or not Van Vuuren should settle in the second or back row, having excelled in both positions up until now, but Adams is backing his charge to leave his mark at the Suncorp Stadium this weekend.

“He’s got a great attitude and this experience will do him the world of good,” said Adams, who believes that Van Vuuren can only get better with more top-level exposure.

Whilst Adams coached Van Vuuren in the WP Under-19 team in 2012, the highly-regarded youth coach has moved into an Institute-based role this year, a dual role along with his WP U19 duties, which saw him accompany the 2014 WPRI squad to Namibia on a pre-season camp last week.

“It was a long bus trip,” said Adams with a laugh, “but it’s a great bonding experience to get the guys out of town, out of their comfort zone and spending time together for a long period.

“We played two matches and won both, so that was pleasing,” he added.

“But we also spent a lot of time talking to the players about what it takes to make it to the top. I have no doubt that a few of the current crop of players in the Institute will be playing senior rugby next year, but, funnily enough, I cited the example of Jurie… about hard work and how quickly you can make the jump if you just put your head down and graft.

“Now, a few days later, Jurie is on the verge of his full DHL Stormers debut and we’re very proud of him and wish him, and the rest of the guys, the best of luck for this weekend.”

* The other WPRI graduates in the DHL Stormers squad for this weekend are: Juan de Jongh, Louis Schreuder, Siya Kolisi, Nizaam Carr, Frans Malherbe, Steven Kitshoff, Stephan Coetzee, Tazz Fuzani and Nic Groom.