Centurion Schoeman showing no signs of slowing down
Star prop Pierre Schoeman isn’t someone that likes to slow down. Be that on the pitch, or away from rugby, the long-haired fan favourite only knows one-gear – and that is full speed ahead, taking on every challenge that comes his way.
It therefore should come as no surprise that Schoeman is still feeling fresh after a demanding Rugby World Cup campaign, where he continually impressed in the number 1 shirt, before hitting the ground running with Edinburgh, where he’s looked every bit the talismanic prop that the capital faithful cheer for every time he touches the ball.
Schoeman crossed the whitewash in the impressive away victory against Ulster at Kingspan Stadium before being rested for last weekend’s European opener away to Clermont Auvergne.
Most would be happy with a bit of reprieve from the brutal nature of the front-row position, but not Schoeman – who, if it were up to him – would play every minute at the coalface.
“When you have momentum and are just finding your feet, playing a good game against Ulster, you want to keep going,” said Schoeman.
“But it is part of the strategy – there are a lot of games this season so if it’s your turn to have a break or a rest, take your medicine and then crack on.”
Schoeman continued: “It’s a funny one. The pre-season for the World Cup was so long, your body is resilient and robust, so it recovers quickly.
“A week or two off and you are sound, ready to go, to be honest with you. Being back at the club, it’s two days of extreme hard work, long hours, a lot of meetings, pre-and reviews, but you have every Wednesday off.
“If you play away in Italy or elsewhere in the UK, you have that travelling half-day off too, so there a lot of hours off where you can recover and rest, to build up to the match and be fresh.”
With a cult like status in the capital because of his commitment to the jersey, Schoeman can now add ‘centurion’ to the long list of superlatives that describe his game.
The prop made his 100th appearance for the club in the victory over Connacht earlier this season – a milestone that moment that he was able to celebrate after a last-gasp drop goal winner from Ben Healy.
He continued: “Yeah, it was actually a cherry on the cake for me, having my 100th game for Edinburgh after the World Cup. That made it extremely special. You are just motivated to play as much as you can. Your career is only short, you want to make the best of it.
“There hasn’t really been that period of reflection after world cup. You have different goals and aspirations to work to again.
“In order to get there, you have to take the next steps, prep well and get your body and mind ready. You have to crack on.
“You want to do well for the club. They pay your wages, so you have to play for them and the fans with heart and soul and make them proud, before you have other goals and aspirations.”
One of those goals for Schoeman is undoubtedly to help his side reach the knockout stages of the EPCR Challenge Cup – which starts with securing a win against French Top 14 side Castres Olympique at Hive Stadium this Saturday.
Edinburgh are looking to bounce back from a Round 1 away defeat to Clermont Auvergne this weekend against a side that Schoeman defeated both home and away in last year’s European competition.
Schoeman said: “If we finish top four, we can qualify for Europe which is massive for the club and also in the URC we want to do bloody well.
“Against Benetton we took our medicine, we learned a lot from that match regarding our penalties and turnovers. We are busy fixing it and I have confidence in that. Sean has been incredible in assisting the team to where we are and what style of rugby we play.
He added: “The individual brilliance Castres have. It’s not often you see that everywhere. There’s quite a few of their players who can offload in contact, take two guys out and then play the pass.
“They are resilient as well. You might break through, but they will come back charging at you relentlessly for the next five minutes, so you have to be on it for the whole 80.
“You don’t want to slip up. You could be playing well, your exits are going well, but on one transition if you give them a foot in the door, they will take that opportunity.”
He continued: “We know what we have to do. We have to exit properly; we know our process regarding that. But we also know when to up it a notch and go to third, fourth gear attacking-wise and [make sure we are] converting.
“That is what hurt us in the past, the conversion rate in the 22. If you have 10 opportunities, you have to make them count.”