South Africa

Big move for Louw, but he fits right in at the Bulls

Technology has allowed players to be tracked in detail throughout the 80 minutes of a rugby match and every individual contribution is measured and analysed.

One man who would have featured in almost all categories for the Bulls in their weekend demolition of the Sharks was rookie loose forward Elrigh Louw.

Given that they won 41-14, the hosts were understandably dominant in terms of the game statistics.

They enjoyed 52% possession and 53% territory; they ran for 367 metres compared to 223; beat 20 defenders compared to just 13 by the Sharks; and made 14 clean breaks while the opposition could only make two. The Bulls also won twice as many turnovers, and completed 86 of their 99 tackles, with 73 of those being dominant hits. The Sharks made 79 tackles, 59 of them being dominant, and missed 20.

And the 21-year-old Louw contributed plenty of carries, made valuable metres, tackled ferociously and even had time to win turnovers and make a couple of offloads. He was also a lineout option in a dominant set-piece for the Bulls.

Snapped up from the Southern Kings last month after they went bust, Louw seems in many ways an old-fashioned forward who keeps things simple, and he is learning plenty from playing alongside Springbok great Duane Vermeulen.

“When I was in high school, at Transvalia in Vanderbijlpark, Duane was the player I looked up to,” Louw said on Monday.

“I used to follow his every step and I wanted to be like him as a player, so to be here at the Bulls with him is a dream come true. I just try and be a sponge and take in everything, and it’s a real privilege to be playing with Springboks like Duane and Marco van Staden.

“I think we connected well as a loose trio (against the Sharks). We were stealing balls, being a nuisance on the ground and we were physical in defence, so I think we complemented each other well.

“I just keep my head down and keep on grinding. I try and focus on my game and not other stuff.

“It has been a big move from Port Elizabeth but I’m sure it’s the right thing for my career.”

The Pretoria-born Louw has made just the one start in the Super Rugby Unlocked campaign, but he impressed to such an extent that people are already saying he could enjoy a long and successful career at Loftus Versfeld.

He has settled in extremely well and made a good impression on his teammates, while coach Jake White speaks highly of his talent and direct style.

“I’ve fitted in comfortably,” Louw said.

“It feels like I’ve been here for years because all of the coaches and players work so well together.”

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