Jaco van der Walt: It's cold, but I love it at Edinburgh
Edinburgh Rugby stand-off Jaco van der Walt admits the cold temperatures in the Capital are taking some getting used to '“ but his form has been red-hot since he arrived from South Africa in November.
His unheralded signing mid-season did not hit the back pages, but he has played in ten matches in the Guinness PRO14 and European Rugby Challenge Cup to date and impressed many with the way he can control a game.
Indeed, such has been the impact of the man who turned 24 in February that fellow number 10s Duncan Weir and Jason Tovey have been told they can leave in the summer.
Next term he will battle it out with incoming Simon Hickey for the starting jersey, but for now Van der Walt’s thoughts are on keeping Edinburgh in the top three of the PRO14 Conference B and progressing in Europe.
They have won five games from six in all competitions since the turn of the year and next up is a big test in the league against Munster at BT Murrayfield tomorrow evening.
“It is very cold, I’m not used to that, but I need to get used to it,” he said this week in the build up to the visit of the Irish outfit.
“I’d never seen snow before, but I’m enjoying it here and I just have to adapt. The first week I got here it snowed which was quite exciting for me – I was a big kid jumping around in the snow. That was quite weird, but nice.
“I’m very fortunate to have played so many games for Edinburgh so far. I think I have played ten games now and that has been a good run. In South Africa, they rotate you quite a lot, so starting week in and week out been tough but it’s been good. I believe the more games I play the better I get.
“It’s wet and cold – I’m used to playing in dry, sunny weather where you can throw the ball around. So, it’s been difficult but a good challenge.
“I never liked playing in the wet weather and now all I get is wet weather, but I believe it makes me better.
“I love the way we play. It suits me. I really like playing running rugby, so, it’s all good.
“The weather obviously has a big impact on the way you play. Over here, you have to play smart with your kicking game, while back at home we don’t kick a lot, but, like I said, you need to adapt.
“Don’t get me wrong, we still want to play running rugby at Edinburgh and I think the style we play here suits me a lot because there are good players around me.”
Head coach Richard Cockerill has talked a lot about the culture he wants to create in the capital going forward and Van der Walt has certainly felt at home very quickly.
“The culture is very good. The boys have welcomed me with open arms, which has been really nice,” the South African said.
“Already you can see the difference than what people said was here before, the culture is really good, there is a brotherhood around the boys.
“If you are that close you will always back each other on and off the field which is really important.
“It’s nice coming in on Mondays when you get a win at the weekend, so the vibe is good and we just need to keep that going as we look forward to this Munster game which is going to be tough.
“I sat with some of the Edinburgh boys and watched the Scotland game at the weekend and I feel like I’m a Scottish guy now!
“It was an amazing win and it is great for us to have guys coming down from Scotland in with us and bring that awesome vibe.
“I have also enjoyed working with Edinburgh backs coach Duncan Hodge, he’s a very good coach. When he goes through my video clips with me after each game I learn so much from him.
“The recent run of wins has given us a lot of confidence, and we are pleased to have a home game this weekend.”