With Ruan Ackermann open to England selection from next season, the Gloucester player spoke about the opportunity of being capped by two nations.
Ahead of the Harlequins challenge this Sunday, Ruan Ackermann spoke of his eligibility, Premiership Rugby and (by chance) his favourite position to play also came up, when he spoke to the media this week.
Harlequins to provide stern forward battle
Harlequins away during the Six Nations period hasn’t always been that tough a game in years gone by, but this will be different. Quins retain Chris Robshaw and Mike Brown and welcome back Jack Clifford.
Looking ahead to Sunday‘s battle Ruan Ackermann said, “It’s been a tough three weeks up till now. Two good wins at home but a disappointing week last week against Bristol. Harlequins will be another tough game, we know what you get from them, big forwards and it’ll be a big challenge.
“If you look at some of the game where the forwards stuck together we got some momentum and scored some good tries. A team like Quins who are renowned for their forwards getting their set pieces going, thriving off a driving maul and forwards carrying hard. It’ll be a big challenge and something we need to focus on being in their back yard.
“The front row has been awesome in the scrums and Franco [Mostert]’s been leading the lineouts well and giving the backs the ball they want. Hopefully this week we can give them a bit more.
“I missed the first game against them this season, but looking at last season it was always a tough game. They’re really big forwards and they have that winning mentality. You know what you’re going to get from them, you just need to be up for it. They move the ball well in the loose and have a great set piece.”
Versatility key for Ackermann, with so much internal Competition
With so much quality across the back row at Gloucester fighting for a starting jersey has become intense. Looking at where he’d like to play in the squad Ackermann explained just how fortunate anyone is to gain the Cherry and White jersey.
“It’s been a frustrating season for me due to the ankle injury I had. I’m used to playing at blindside flanker and last season playing a lot at eight with Ben [Morgan] injured. I’m just grateful for the opportunity to be part of this team and it doesn’t matter where.
“It changes you as a player, knowing where you are that week to prepare yourself for that is an important thing. The challenge has been really good and there is so much competition in the back row at the moment if you can just get in there you’re doing well.
“You learn something new every day, every game. I’m at the stage of my career where the stuff I’m learning I’m getting rewarded for sometimes but there’s still a lot to learn.”
Ruan Ackermann open to England selection
Following a recent change in the rules, South Africa can now choose overseas players. It’s not the only country on the mind of Ackermann who qualifies for England at the end of next season.
Talking about the opportunity to be capped by his country of birth he said, “I haven’t heard from him [Rassie Erasmus] yet, but with the rule change you as a player knows you need to step up your game, even more, to put your hand up and give yourself the opportunity to even get a call.
“There’s so much talent all across the world so moving here and being able to get selected gives you more energy to perform every week and be selected. At the moment for me, it’s just about getting back from the injury and being back on the pitch playing and giving your all to the team and see where it goes.”
Looking ahead to the end of next season and, the possibility of an England call-up, he explained the complicated eligibility process. “I’ve got one more season and then they say you’re eligible.
“It does feel a bit strange, going back in 2017 coming over from Super Rugby and they said if you play here three years you could be playing for England and now we’re only one season away.
”It’s something you think about in your off time.”
He gets advice [naturally] from his dad/coach, but insists he isn’t being pushed down either route. “He’s [Johan Ackermann] always giving advice, but obviously will never try and change how you feel as a player. He gives you the positives and negatives and the long term stuff.
“His main thing is saying, playing internationals – whether you play for England or South Africa – is quality. If they both come then you have to go with your heart, but if one is there and the other isn’t then playing international rugby is all you want.”
Big tests ahead in Gallagher Premiership play-off race
Playing both Harlequins and Wasps in the coming weeks will be a big test for the young back rower and his team. Not only are Gloucester still in the hunt for play-offs, but he personally will be up against international quality players such as Chris Robshaw and Thomas Young.
Looking ahead to these tests he said “coming back to being young, that’s one of the challenges you thrive for is challenging yourself against the best and the experienced guys. That’s the benefit you have of being young you can see the level you are at with them.
“England has some really good back-rowers at the moment with some guys also coming back from injury. It’s something I like to challenge myself on is where you see yourself on a level compared to these players.”
Revealed; Ackermann’s favourite position
Despite the task of playing across the back row, Ackermann told of his favourite position and explained how different the playing styles are between the Premiership and Super Rugby.
”It probably depends on the way the team will play that weekend, but going overall I’d say eight.”
“Here you’re involved more with the ball and so on, where the six is on the edges and involved in the first few phases. Coming from back home, the six would have been more involved position and that’s why I’m used to both.”
With more crucial rugby fixtures fast approaching, Ruan Ackermann and Gloucester are determined to place the soon-to-be qualified International player, in the right place on the field, to help influence the fortunes of club and country.
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