In terms of experience, Bulls tighthead prop Mornay Smith may seem ill-equipped to take on the might of Stormers loosehead Steven Kitshoff this weekend in their Rainbow Cup match in Cape Town, but the 23-year-old has been on a roll lately and he says he is “not having sleepless nights” about the prospect.
Smith has marked himself out as a top-class talent for the Bulls, having come on as a replacement for Springbok Trevor Nyakane in some crunch games and shown that he can bear the heavy responsibility of being the cornerstone of the scrum on his shoulders.
He started last weekend against the Lions and did well, but he is likely to be back on the bench on Saturday with Nyakane expected to play.
But with the marvellous Kitshoff generally playing deep into the second half, Smith could well get his first chance to scrum against one of the world’s best.
“It’s the first time I’m playing against the Stormers because last time we played them I was out injured, and I have never scrummed against Kitshoff before,” Smith said.
“It’s going to be a very big challenge but it’s lekker to play against the No 1 loosehead, to measure yourself against him. It all depends on what he gives me on the day, but I’m not having sleepless nights about it.
“Every prop has his own way of doing things and you have to read what your opponent is giving you. You must counter whatever picture he is showing you.”
Thanks to his parents being big Bulls supporters, Loftus Versfeld was always the destination of choice for Smith as he attended Hoerskool Eldoraigne and played age-group rugby for the Bulls from U-12s to U-21s.
“I always wanted to play for the Bulls. It was a big dream of mine,” he said.
“So they are very proud and going forward now we will just see what happens.
“I’m still fine-tuning my scrumming to get it right. There are a couple of small things that need more attention, but I’m taking it step by step.”