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VIDEO: Krappie following in the footsteps of his childhood hero

VIDEO: Growing up in Johannesburg Lions scrumhalf Morné van den Berg wanted to emulate his Springbok hero Enrico Januarie on the rugby field and he is well on his way to fulfilling that dream.

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Van den Berg, affectionately known as Krappie, spent most of his weekends at Ellis Park where his grandfather worked.

He was educated at Linden Hoërskool during which time he represented the Lions’s youth teams before making his senior debut in 2017 on the very same field where his grandfather worked in the ticket office.

“Me and my brother used to spend every weekend at Ellis Park with my grandfather and since then I have always been a Lions supporter,” Van den Berg told Rugby365.

The scrumhalf has had a very exciting two weeks after first learning that he was called up to the Springbok alignment camp taking place in Cape Town on March 4 and he also got married over the weekend.

The exciting scrumhalf has been tearing up the rugby fields in the United Rugby Championship as well as the Challenge Cup the last two seasons with some sterling performances.

The Lions’ No. 9 is known as a hard-working individual who often stays on the field long after training was concluded to hone his skills.

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But he says despite the recognition bestowed upon him with the invitation to Cape Town, there is still a lot of hard work to be done behind the scenes to improve.

“I have so much to grow, I have so much more potential that I can fill, so I am excited to hopefully get to a Springbok squad where I can learn and I can grow into that potential.

“It’s been a hard few years of hard work, but there’s a lot more hard work to be done. That’s actually very exciting,” Van den Berg told Rugby365.

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“I think you can always be better firstly. I think my skills can get better, but I also think the environment that you get into, can help you grow. And I think that is important. The Springbok environment is obviously excellence so I am excited to get into that environment.

“To learn, to grow and to get better at my skills, get better at reading the game, and just to take my expectation of myself higher.

“But that doesn’t happen there, that happens here on the field every day. That’s what I keep chasing every day.

“I was overwhelmed and excited to get the call-up. It has always been a dream, so to get that good news was quite exciting. It was a special day. We had a good reception from the team as well. There was a lot of excitement among the squad,” said Van den Berg.

“I think the competition (at the Lions and Boks) is quite a good thing. So the thing is to just learn where you can and be coachable, and when your opportunity comes be ready.

“My mindset going there is to learn from the players who have already been there. To be a sponge, soak in as much as I can, and to be ready and competitive where I can.”

Growing up Van den Berg always looked up to the Springbok scrumhalves, knowing he will wear the number nine on his back, and the ones that really caught his eye was Fourie du Preez but more so Enrico (Ricky) Januarie.

“Fourie du Preez, when I was growing up, was quite a legend.

“I was quite a big Lions supporter and the Januarie link-up with Andre Pretorius. I think Ricky was quite the guy when I was growing up,” he said with a big smile.

“I remember the chip and chase in Dunedin, that’s probably still one of my favourite tries till today,” Van den Berg claims.

Januarie’s try against the All Blacks in Dunedin in 2008 helped the Springboks to a memorable win in the Tri-Nations.

South Africa ended a 10-year wait for a win in New Zealand with a 30-28 victory on that day.

That win required an individual try from nothing from Januarie with five minutes to go while they were down to 14 men. Victor Matfield, stand-in captain in the absence of John Smit, had been sent to the sin bin for the umpteenth high tackle of the match only a minute earlier.

Dan Carter kicked the subsequent penalty and New Zealand, now in charge of a match that had got away from them in the first half, were looking if not quite comfortable, at least the likelier to win.

But a minute later Januarie saw the All Blacks’ Keven Mealamu drift away from the side of the ruck and he was through with only Leon MacDonald to beat. He chipped over him and a sharp bounce kicked back into his hands for a clear run-in to the posts.

Francois Steyn knocked over the conversion and the Springboks had their first victory on New Zealand soil for 10 years and their first ever at Carisbrook, the infamous House of Pain.

This weekend the Lions face a bruised Sharks side in the URC with both teams desperate for a win.

Van den Berg will come up against two Springboks scrumhalves in Jaden Hendrikse and Grant Williams.

“They both have been in the Springbok mix so, like I said earlier, you learn from them what I can learn from them, but also not stand back. Very excited to get to know them and compete hopefully.”

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