'Without a doubt': Powerhouse lock wants to call Cape Town 'home'
SPOTLIGHT: Lock Ruben van Heerden said he can see himself staying in Cape Town for a long time as he is starting to flourish in the environment and culture that the Stormers have created.
The 25-year-old joined the franchise from Exeter Chiefs on a short-term contract in January to provide cover after a couple of injuries in the second-row department.
In the last two months, the former Sharks player has proven to be a vital cog in the Stormers’ system and he is just enjoying himself on and off the pitch.
“Off the field, I have been loving every moment at the Stormers,” said Van Heerden.
“It’s a special group and a special environment and one that I want to be a part of.
“Without a doubt, my heart wants to stay here.
“I think my wife enjoys Cape Town, so she would love to stay.
“There is nothing that we can really disclose now [in terms of a contract] at the moment, but I have been loving and enjoying every moment and I would definitely love to stay here.
“I can see myself staying at the Stormers for quite a long time.”
Van Heerden has also received extra motivation from head coach John Dobson, who believes his new lock can push for Springbok selection.
“I was always a guy who flourished with positive motivation, so if a coach says something like that, it makes me just want to do more for him,” the lock explained.
“That is how I’m wired.
“I think what every rugby player wants is a coach that backs him and it was great to hear something like and he said it publicly as well.
“I think you get a lot of coaches that will say that to you personally, but for a coach that says it publicly is the biggest motivation for me.”
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#ICYMI: Stormers head coach John Dobson got a clear message from his Springbok players 👇#URC #ChampionsCup #CurrieCup #Stormers #SouthAfrica #Springboks 👇https://t.co/CVGAWOXsf2
— rugby365.com (@rugby365com) March 21, 2023
The Stormers’ culture
Over the past couple of seasons, a number of players have revitalised their careers after joining the Stormers and Van Heerden seems to be on the same path.
The big lock spoke a little more about the environment in the Stormers’ camp.
“It is actually very interesting to see players coming here and flourishing at the Stormers. It really is a special environment,” Van Heerden said.
“I used to hear about it when I was on the outside and now that you are actually in the environment, you can actually feel it.
“We don’t have any egos in the team. Everyone just works together and everyone gets along.
“We got a good blend of experience and younger guys. We got a game plan that everyone just buys into and everything just gels.
“In an environment like this, you can’t not flourish.
“Having coaches that just back you and who are honest and upfront as they are, you want to give your best for a coach like that.
“You want to go above and beyond the call of duty.
“A happy player is a good player. I am happy in the environment.
“I think most of the guys are happy in the environment and all credit goes to the coaching staff for that.
“I think keeping the squad of 50 players happy is a tough task, but they are doing it.
“If you are happy, you are going to play your best rugby and that is why everyone is flourishing.”