Keagan Johannes coming into his own
SPOTLIGHT: Growing up in the small town of Mamre in the Western Cape, Keagan Johannes looked up to a player like Ruan Pienaar as the ideal scrumhalf.
This weekend Johannes will face Pienaar again, although the Springbok will more than likely run out with the number ten on his back, but the 23-year-old is not phased about the experienced flyhalf that he will come face to face with at Loftus against the Cheetahs on Saturday.
Speaking ahead of the big Currie Cup clash this weekend which will see the Bulls go out to stay in contention for the semifinals, Johannes said Pienaar was one of the number nines he looked up to growing up.
“Ruan would be in the conversation as a scrumhalf I looked up to. He has a great kicking boot, he plays nine and ten. I also played ten at school at Garsfontein, so I’ve always looked up to him. Obviously Ruan is a phenominal player, as well as Fourie du Preez, who worked with us a few months ago. Those are two great guys to look up to,” the nuggety scrumhalf enthused.
Facing a player that is seen as a true great on the rugby field, Johannes knows what he is in for, but is realistic about the legend status attached to Pienaar.
“The thing with a youngster playing against a guy like Ruan, you can’t shy away from the opportunity that presents itself. He was also once a young guy and also tried showing what he has. I feel the hunger that us young guys have, we must just express ourselves on the field and show him he was also once there, why not me? And just take the challenge to him.”
Johannes had limited game-time early in the season but has gradually worked his way into the starting mix, ironically getting his first Currie Cup start in March against the Cheetahs.
“I think working hard behind the scenes and sticking to what you need to do [made the difference]. I feel like coach Jake is someone that does look behind the scenes and what you are up to.
“So it’s just hard work and when a chance presents itself, you have to be ready and show that you are worthy of playing there and that you can still keep that position when there is pressure form behind.”