Currie Cup

McCaw, Vermeulen or Rossouw? Why can't I be all of them, asks Elrigh Louw

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Elrigh Louw
Elrigh Louw
  • Elrigh Louw's ceiling is perceived to be so high that the rising Bulls star is now being compared to at half-a-dozen legendary flankers.
  • But instead of trying to model the 21-year-old on one player, he's happy to incorporate elements of all of them as he aims to help win the Currie Cup.
  • Louw is also thrilled to be playing alongside one of those role models, skipper and Springbok stalwart Duane Vermeulen.

It's either really tough or surprisingly easy being Elrigh Louw.

A promising start to his career at Loftus has seen the Bulls' rising 21-year-old star being compared to Springbok legends Andre Venter and Pieter-Steph du Toit by his director of rugby, Jake White.

The Pretoria faithful believe he has the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of Danie Rossouw, while Louw himself is a massive Schalk Burger, Richie McCaw and Duane Vermeulen fan.

So, instead of modeling him on one of those stalwarts, why not be a bit of all of them?

That's certainly part of the imposing 1.95m, 112kg bulldozer's thinking.

"There are many guys I base my play on, but I try to have a mixture of the best of all. I can’t say there’s one guy who I base my play on 100%, but Richie McCaw, Schalk Burger, Duane Vermeulen are my role models," Louw said ahead of the Bulls' Currie Cup semi-final against the Lions at Loftus on Saturday.

"I try to roll all of them into one: good flank on the ground, good defence, strong, running rugby."

His stats in Super Rugby Unlocked - before a timely calf injury ate into his Currie Cup game-time - attested to that ideal.

20 tackles, three turnovers and almost 110 running metres in four Unlocked outings suggests that his 90 completed tackles and six turnovers in the PRO14 last season for the Kings were no fluke.

"I enjoy contact. But I also enjoy an open game. I try to combine my play, but physical rugby is definitely my favourite," he said.

The tantalising prospect of him also becoming an accomplished lock prompted the comparison with Rossouw.

"I’ll play wherever my team needs me – flank, eighthman, lock, it doesn’t really matter, my play stays the same."

But, given that he's currently hovering just in front of him at the side of the Bulls' scrum, Louw's most immediate influence is Vermeulen.

The Springbok veteran has raved previously over the youngster being a "sponge" and, in turn, Louw hails Vermeulen's role.

"Duane's amazing. He’s very calm and he has the type of aura you can draw energy from," he said.

"When he speaks, everyone listens, and it’s awesome to play under him as captain. There’s no better guy to learn from."

Louw, who says a Currie Cup semi-final is a dream come true, rather maturely, admits that he and his fellow rookies will be relying heavily on the senior core to guide them in a pressure-cooker environment.

"I think the senior guys will have to pitch up. There are many youngsters here who are playing in their first ever semi-final, so they would have to bring a bit of calmness. Then, the big thing is that we must just stick to our plan and stay calm, and not fold under the pressure,” he said.

That pragmatism though doesn't dim the romanticism of the occasion.

"As a child I used to watch the Currie Cup at Loftus and my dad would lift me up in the air out of excitement, so it means a lot to me.

"To be 21 years old and playing in a Currie Cup semi-final, I don’t think a lot of guys have accomplished that, and to make the final would be a dream come true."

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