South Africans, particularly the Afrikaners, can often be quite reserved characters, but Edinburgh loosehead Pierre Schoeman certainly bucks that trend.
The ebullient 24-year-old added to his growing cult status with the Edinburgh support when he produced a superb man-of-the-match performance in the 1872 Cup-clinching 16-8 win over Glasgow at the weekend.
As well as contributing to a dominant capital scrum, the former Springbok Under-20 internationalist was also explosive in the loose with a number of eye-catching carries as he continues to impress in what is becoming a pretty fearsome Edinburgh front row.
Schoeman is on record as stating that his long-term dream is to represent Scotland one day, although, unlike compatriots Duhan van der Merwe and Jaco van der Walt, his signing from the Blue Bulls came after the residency rule had been extended from three years to five.
In the meantime, Schoeman is certainly throwing himself into Edinburgh life and his entertaining Twitter account regularly features pictures of him out and about in the Capital, most recently hoisting his wife Charissa aloft atop Arthur’s Seat.
After that second win over Glasgow in the space of the week, which completed a flawless December, head coach Richard Cockerill singled out the South African contingent for their buy-in to the culture he is building at the club.
“It is phenomenal,” said Schoeman. “It is a very professional club on and off the field, which Cockers is driving strongly. Discipline is key right through from the management even to the guys cleaning at Murrayfield, it is a big policy in our character set-up. We reap the fruit on the field.”
Schoeman was basking in the glow of that man-of-the-match award at Scotstoun.
“A sold-out Glasgow stadium, it was immense. Especially the win and back to back as well,” he said.
“I have had to perform a bit especially after being sidelined a wee bit. I had to get back into the team and perform. I had to earn my spot and to earn your spot, you have to work hard.”
Schoeman is now firmly locked in battle for that No. 1 jersey with Scotland cap Allan Dell, another garrulous stereotype-busting South African.
“I learn a lot from the boys, especially at training. Guys like Allan Dell, Rory Sutherland, even Darryl Marfo, all Scottish capped players, you can learn from anyone,” continued Schoeman. “It is enjoyable prepping week-in, week-out.
“I must say the scrums, especially with skipper and hooker] Stu McInally and WP [Nel], it is a big honour playing with them. WP makes it a lot easier for the loosehead because he is so good and experienced.”
After arriving at Edinburgh under the shadow of a biting ban from Super Rugby, and then being sent off in his debut against Leinster for an elbow strike, Schoeman has responded well and won over the fans with his all-action, committed style. “It happens,” he said of that red card last September. “You want to get stuck in, in the first game and make a massive statement. Sometimes you just have to be patient and it will come.”
That patience culminated in the chance to celebrate 1872 Cup success with his “Edinburgh brothers” and Schoeman revealed that they had been particularly motivated to prove they could get the better of Glasgow on their own patch following the 23-7 win at BT Murrayfield the previous week.
“We knew they were going to double up on the petrol so mentally we had to prepare for that,” said the prop.
“From the management right through to the guys on the rehab, everyone was a wee bit more focused last week.”
Schoeman is likely to be one of the big guns rested when Cockerill names his team today for tomorrow’s return to Guinness Pro14 action at home to the Kings from South Africa.
“I fancy another game but one has to be honest about it as well,” said Schoeman. “Look at the two Newcastle games and two Glasgow games, guys that start all four, like WP Nel, you need to give them a week off with Europe again and then the Six Nations coming round the corner as well.”