Nic Groom is arguably the “biggest” signing the Lions have made in the past three years.
Signed from English side Northampton in mid-season, it hasn’t been the easiest of introductions for the former Stormers scrumhalf.
The 28-year-old is chilled about his new chapter in Johannesburg though his return to Newlands is pretty quick – Saturday’s north-south derby.
Here’s what he had to say about that clash as well as several other takeaways.
On whether the Stormers will target him because they ‘know’ him…
That’s a good question. I hope not (laughs). I know quite a few of the Stormers’ coaching staff really well, we did come a long way. I spent six seasons at the Stormers after all. Maybe there might be one or two things that they know about me. But on the flip side, I’ve changed a lot too in the last two years I’d like to think.
There are a lot things I can do now that wasn’t able to do there. So it works both ways I guess. It’s a good opportunity for me.
On South Africa’s scrumhalf depth…
I’m not too fussed to be honest. I don’t spend much time thinking about that. Maybe it’s a fair comment that no-one has really put up their hand yet but it’s a tough one. No-one knows who’s going to be playing for Rassie (Erasmus) and who’ll be able to make the step up. I think I can put my hand up but I’m only going to play for the Springboks if I play well for the Lions. I can’t control how I kick on after this, I can just play well every week.
On fitting in at the Lions and his own early progress at his new side…
I immediately realised that the Lions’ culture is really well established. The guys have been together for a really long time and I thought that would be my biggest challenge – how do I slot in here? It’s taken time but I think I’m getting better every week. I just want to serve the team. The rest will take care of itself. It takes time to forge a relationship with a No 8, No 10 and a fullback. As things progress, you start developing little plays and tricks with your teammates.I’m getting there, I’m happy.
On his return to Newlands…
It doesn’t matter the circumstances or a competition, there’s a lot more emotion in a South African match. It’s more personal. Newlands is special to me. I’d have preferred if the Stormers had actually won last week because this year’s tournament has shown that every team that has lost one week bounces back the next. The Stormers are notorious for that too.
Lions: Andries Coetzee, Ruan Combrinck, Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Harold Vorster, Aphiwe Dyantyi, Elton Jantjies, Nic Groom, Kwagga Smith, Franco Mostert (c), Marnus Schoeman, Marvin Orie, Lourens Erasmus, Ruan Dreyer, Robbie Coetzee, Dylan Smith. Bench: Corne Fourie, Dylan Smith, Jacobie Adriaanse, Rhyno Herbst, Hacjivah Dayimani, Ross Cronje, Madosh Tambwe, Sylvian Mahuza.