Andries Bekker on fire for the Stormers
Let’s talk about the “tallest outside-centre in the world”, Andries Bekker, the second-row forward from the Stormers.
He was a titanic figure in the Stormers nail-biting 36-34 win over the Chiefs.
The quote in the lead was from one of the South African commentators half joking as Bekker took the ball through the Chiefs line and was bought down by the last man after a long run.
Bekker is surprisingly quick for a man who tops out just below the stratosphere at 211cm (6’11”).
During the match on the weekend he stood out carrying the ball nine times for 76 metres. A huge impact on the game, especially with the timing of his carries.
As with the line break, his other carries seemed to punch the ball well over the advantage line just as the Stormers needed someone to lift their performance.
Adding to the strong work on the ground Bekker managed to win 10 lineouts for the home team as well. This all-round contribution isn’t anything new for Bekker, especially to Stormers fans.
But his across the park game deserves to be pointed out in a competition where the second row doesn’t seem to have a huge wealth of talent that can compete in every facet of the game.
Often second rowers seem to be broken up into specialty roles of a jumper or scrum and ruck enforcer.
Bekker embodies the potential of a player who takes both roles seriously and works them into his game. He’s almost impossible to seal a lineout from but he’s ferocious in his open field and scrummaging work.
From a Stormers perspective he was only beaten to more rucks by the hugely talented blindside flanker Siyamthanda Kolisi, and Bekker had a ruck turnover to show for it.
In fact, Bekker has a turnover in every game so far this year.
This year the Stormers will be looking for an explosive attacking game to pair with their defence that has been stout for years.
The installation of young Elton Jantjies at fly-half instead of Peter Grant is a testament to that ambition.
As the Waratahs have learned, all the best intentions of attacking rugby go down the gurgler without having significant go forward up front.
The Stormers will be relying on the veteran Bekker lead that momentum that provides them with room to attack freely all year. There aren’t any signs so far that he’s shirking that responsibility.
While developing into one of the most consistently consistent second-rowers in world rugby, Bekker has now amassed 93 caps for the Stormers.
The strange thing is that this man has only 29 caps in his international career to date.
He’s 29, but if Nathan Sharpe and Victor Matfield are any indication, Bekker still has plenty of time to add to that tally.
I expect him to be a big feature for the Springboks later this year, and he’s started the Super Rugby season wonderfully well.
If you want to learn how a good second rower goes about their trade, flip on the Stormers and watch their big number five go tear into his work.