22-year old Nick Schonert has agreed to join Worcester Warriors ahead of next season. The tight-head prop is joining after only one season with Super 15 side, the Cheetahs.
One of 17 signings made already by Director of Rugby, Dean Ryan, Nick hails from the land where forward play is sculpted and adored. With South Africa consistently being the top side on the planet in the scrummaging and mauling department especially, it seems like a sturdy, powerful prop in the shape of Nick is what Worcester need. With Euan Murray released from his contract and John Andress heading to Edinburgh, Ryan has looked to the likes of Nick and Osprey, Joe Rees, to anchor the Warriors set-piece.
Having played youth rugby in Natal and been part of the Baby Boks squad in the 2011 JWC, Nick is certainly a prospect. 51 cap Springbok, Jannie du Plessis has praised Nick and encouraged him to get more time in the tight-head jersey. With the Worcester of old known for a stern scrum and effective lineout, it seems Ryan is recruiting to set that platform to help unleash the quick, athletic backline he’ll have at his disposal next season.
A key player in the on-going rebuilding process at Sixways, Ryan was delighted that Nick chose to make the move across hemisphere’s. “He is aware of our long-term focus and is committed to being part of our journey” Ryan told the club’s website and added “he is the sort of player who will add to this club and has the potential to be an outstanding Premiership player.”
I really wanted to get to know a bit more about Nick, as I imagine do all Warriors fans, and his reasoning for joining an under-achieving Warriors side, and he was nice enough to send me over his thoughts from his home in South Africa.
Welcome to Worcester Nick, it’s great to have you on board! What were the reasons for you linking up with Dean Ryan and co. at the Warriors?
It was about eight months ago when my agent notified me that Worcester had shown an interest in my performances and had been monitoring my progress for a while! I’d been waiting for this sort of opportunity and my agent set up a meeting with Dean as soon as possible. Within a month, Dean flew over to South Africa to meet me and as a result, demonstrated to me that he was serious about me joining, as well as showing me he was very keen to put a great team together! The rest is history.
You’ve played with fellow Warrior, Mike Williams before. Did he have much to say in trying to lure you to Sixways?
It wasn’t really anything that Mike said, but rather just the thought of playing alongside him on the rugby field again! I really enjoy him as a player, but more so as a friend.
You’ve spent time with the Sharks, Griquas, and Free State Cheetahs, and been part of the South Africa U20s team. Best moment of your career so far?
I’d say my favourite part of my career so far was probably my Currie Cup season at the Griquas, the reason being was because it was such a close team and, an especially happy time in my life.
Anyone, be it a coach or player that has had a major influence on your rugby career?
My family are my biggest fans, but if there was one coach who has had the biggest influence on me, it’s Pote Human. He’s made me love the game much more and was a massive father figure to all of the team.
Pote Human-Former Blue Bulls and Griquas coach who has taken charge of UP-Tuks , competing in the Varsity Cup.
Anyone you’re looking forward to playing alongside at Worcester?
All new and former team-mates!
How do you think South African rugby compares to the style of rugby over here? Is the English game more physical?
I think rugby is very physical wherever you go, but the difference between the two is that South African’s want to spread the ball wide and run it. It’s quick rugby as us prop’s call it. Whereas, English rugby is a bit slower and more structured, more brute force is required, so I think it will suit me. So in a way, you could call it more ‘physical’.
Obviously Worcester will have to battle their way back to the Premiership next season. What do you expect from Championship rugby?
I’m expecting some hard, physical and brutal rugby….as well as some wet weather!
What ambitions do you hold for the future? International rugby?
Well if you don’t want to play at the top level, maybe you are in the wrong sport! So yes I want to play International rugby!
In your opinion, what is the most important aspect of the game a player should develop in order to be an effective tight-head?
Getting the right shoulder position in the scrums and by doing so putting your team on the front foot. Or as I like to say, R.S.E…meaning ‘Right Shoulders Everywhere’!
Nick is raring to go for next season and seems to be a bubbly guy with massive playing potential!
I hope Nick can really develop under the likes of Ceri Jones and I wish all him the very best in a Warriors jersey.
You can follow nick on Twitter @NickSchonert