AUDIO: The advice Etzebeth gave Evan Roos
PROFILE: Listen as Stormers loose forward Evan Roos talks of the valuable advice he received from Springbok Eben Etzebeth.
Since his school days Evan Roos has been a force to be reckoned with and over the past weekend he again wreaked havoc when the Stormers faced Munster in the United Rugby Championship.
There was just no stopping Roos as he made a total of 46 metres in contact against the highly rated Irish – more than any other player has managed in a single match this season or last.
He and Ulsters’ David Mccann have made the most turn-overs in the URC to date with eight each.
The 23-year-old Roos has been hailed far and wide as a potential superstar since his early playing years.
He can see and take a gap like a centre, has very impressive ball carrying skills and never seems to get stopped or moved backwards. He just powers through a wall of forwards like there is no tomorrow.
He has the traits of a classic No. 8 namely acceleration, speed, ball skills, power and aggression.
In 2022 Roos burst onto the scene during the URC and kicked the door down that the Springbok selectors could not ignore him.
And then the accolades came – URC Players’ Player of the Season, Fans’ Player of the Season and Next-Gen Player of the Season while he was also included in the URC Dream Team.
This earned him a Springbok call-up and he made his Springbok debut on July 9, 2022 against Wales.
However, he was one of the unfortunate ones to miss out on South Africa’s final World Cup squad of 33.
If nothing else, this has spurned him on even more and he has been one of the outstanding players in the Stormers squad this season despite the team not at their best.
To be honest, he kind of loves to live on the edge and with World Rugby cracking down on foul play in the name of player safety, he has at times shown a propensity to let off the ball incidents overtake the important side of the game.
Roos spoke to Rugby365 about coming off the back of some nagging injuries, but he seems to be back to his old form.
“I was unlucky with injuries last year. I think I only played ten games for the Stormers last season so it wasn’t what we planned. But such is life, you can’t control those things.
“I am just happy to be playing again,” Roos said from the team hotel in Cardiff ahead of their last match on tour on Friday.
“Obviously being part of the Stormers is special. Just be able to live out my dream every weekend and just give my best for this team. I really enjoy it and I’m feeling confident again and just keen to learn and eager to get better.”
Speaking about being the turn-over king, how hard does he work on perfecting the fine art of not getting on the wrong side of the referee?
“Turn-overs are a funny thing. I was spoiled last season with the likes of Kitsie [Steven Kitshoff and Brannas [Deon Fourie in the squad. Now they are not there, so I have been left to my own devices now.
“But I took the learnings from them and now just apply them to our training here at the Stormers. Now and again it pays off, sometimes the ref doesn’t see it that way, and you gotta move onto the next one. I think that’s the gamble of poaching.”
It has been said that Roos is such a versatile loose forward that he can play flank, No. 8 or lock, but what does he prefer?
“I like that you say lock, it makes me feel taller haha. But all the positions are fun. I mostly obviously play eight. But I do get around at seven, and it depends on how the system in the team operates, I’ll give that a go as well.
“And lock would be something cool to experience, I haven’t played in a professional game before. I think it’s a different beast but if the option ever comes, I will obviously give it my best shot. But my favourite position is eight.”
Roos says living on the edge as a poacher means you constantly have to get guidance from the referee.
“It is obviously a thing you’ve got to think about. You just have to give the right pictures to the ref and abide by the laws and then the refs will reward you. The refs are also very good at telling you when you are there unlawfully or illegally.
“They do warn you, so you do have two seconds to bail out of the competition. It is something you’ve got to think of and you’ve got to be on top of the rules to kind of implement those turnovers and stuff.
“So I’m just constantly staying on top of those rules to get the best possible outcome when going in for a turnover or poaching.”
As one of the stand-out players in the URC last season, are accolades a source of inspiration to him?
Listen to Roos talking about the advice he got from Springbok lock Eben Etzebeth.
“It’s cool and it’s an honour to get those awards but I try not to focus on it. Not to sound ungrateful or anything, but I once sat around a table with Eben Etzebeth and he just told me as long as you have the respect of the guys sitting around this table, then that’s all that matters.
“Personal awards and accolades don’t count that much. That hit quite deep and I think that’s a good mentality when it comes to these sort of things,” Roos says.
We asked him about his view on the touring debate that is currently a hot topic with South African teams often being on the road for four weeks and the results have indicated that it is a tough nut to crack.
“It has been tough up North. Obviously it’s a big white elephant in the room. I think it’s a mixture of some of the South African franchises playing without our international players that we are so accustomed to. New players are heading into squads with all the unions, so it’s something to get used to.
“And a four week tour is quite tough. I think people underestimate the difficulty behind touring. And it was the first games for most of us for the season, it’s still settling in and all those things. So it’s definitely going to get better.
“I can assure everyone that all the unions are definitely going to find their groove after this tour. It will probably be a much different picture come December, January for the South African teams,” Roos said.