Super Rugby

A combo of Burger and McCaw - Bulls' Elrigh Louw is indeed a 'Sheriff'

Elrigh Louw
Elrigh Louw
  • Elrigh Louw's blockbuster first start in a Bulls jersey last weekend wasn't surprising when one considers he models his game on Schalk Burger and Richie McCaw.
  • Thrillingly for the 20-year-old flanker, he's also now exposed to another hero of his, franchise skipper Duane Vermeulen.
  • Louw believes the loose trio that did duty against the Sharks has the hallmarks of becoming a classic one.

During the Bulls' 41-14 dismantling of the Sharks last weekend, Elrigh Louw delivered a performance that featured an impressive cocktail of stats.

He was ferocious as a ball-carrier, notably setting up flank partner Marco van Staden's first try with an initial burst and then running a brilliant line as support a few phases later to make the scoring pass.

Depending on whether you prefer Sanzaar's Opta or SA Rugby's Stratus stats, the 20-year-old blindsider made between nine and 12 tackles and won two turnovers.

And, just as a cherry on top, he won a line-out and poached one too.

It's not particularly difficult to pinpoint why this 1.95m, 112kg behemoth is so intent on being everywhere ... and where his Southern Kings nickname of "The Sheriff" comes from.

"A physical guy like Schalk Burger really inspired me. He was one of my role models growing up along with Richie McCaw," Louw said rather succinctly.

When you're going to base your game on those two international legends, a perfect combination of power and guile, you'll pretty much become a complete player if you pull things through.

Yet, as he rose through the ranks at Hoërskool Transvalia to eventually become a Junior Springbok, Louw found a new hero in Duane Vermeulen.

Little did he know that just over a year after an eye-catching move to Port Elizabeth to play in the PRO14, he would be fronting up in the same loose trio as the Springbok veteran.

"When I was in high school, Duane was the player I looked up to," said Louw.

"I used to follow his every step and I wanted to be like him as a player, so to be here at the Bulls with him is a dream come true. I just try and be a sponge and take in everything.

"It’s a real privilege to be playing with Springboks like him and Marco."

What will please Jake White, the Bulls' director of rugby, no end is how Louw epitomises the spirit that the former Springbok coach has hoped to cultivate under his potent group of loose forwards, which also includes Arno Botha and Nizaam Carr.

In a nutshell: every player is equal, it's all about competition.

And Louw has clearly embraced it, impressive for a young man who only joined in late July.

"Things moved rapidly," he said with a smile.

"Within two days, I moved from PE to Pretoria with all my stuff again. I really fitted in well here, my team-mates and coaches have made it so much easier for me. I feel like I've been here for years."

Ominously for a wounded Stormers loose trio that is missing Pieter-Steph du Toit, Siya Kolisi and Nama Xaba, Louw believes the combination that did duty against the Sharks has the hallmarks of becoming a classic one.

"I think we connected well as a loose trio. We were stealing balls, being a nuisance on the ground and we were physical in defence, so I think we complemented each other well.

"I'm just keep my head down and keep on grinding."

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