Marius Louw on Andre Esterhuizen void: ‘I’m filling big shoes’

Marius Louw.


Marius Louw.

(Steve Haag/Gallo Images)

  • Sharks centre Marius Louw hopes to get even better in the No
    12 jumper, where he’s filled Andre Esterhuizen’s giant shoes.
  • Springbok inside centre Esterhuizen took his talents to
    Harlequins, England, after Super Rugby shut down due to Covid-19.
  • Louw and Jeremy Ward square off against Bulls midfield duo
    Cornal Hendricks and Stedman Gans this Saturday.

Sharks centre Marius Louw hopes to get even better in the No
12 jumper as the Currie Cup goes on, after slotting adeptly into
midfield following Andre Esterhuizen’s departure.

Springbok inside centre Esterhuizen took his talents to Harlequins
in England, playing his last match for the franchise in March before the rugby doors shut due to the coronavirus pandemic earlier
this year.

Head coach Sean Everitt set the marker for his two substitute
centres Louw and Jeremy Ward at the restart, telling them to fight it out for
the first centre berth as an outside replacement would not be sourced.

READ | A positive attitude helped Marius Louw fill Esterhuizen void

As it turned out, after captain Lukhanyo Am suffered a hand
injury, Louw and Ward ended up playing majority of the Super Rugby Unlocked
matches together in midfield before continuing in the Currie Cup.

“I’m filling big shoes,” said Louw.

“Andre Esterhuizen is away but I learnt quite a lot
from him.

“I’m enjoying my game time at the moment and hopefully
I can improve and get better as the games go on.

“There is good, close competitiveness amongst each other
and I think that’s what makes the team good.

“The guy next to you can push you. It’s a squad effort
and we push each other to do more work.

“All credit to the team for putting in the effort and
to Sean [Everitt] for giving me the game time opportunity.”

The Sharks face the Bulls juggernaut at Kings Park this
Saturday (19:00 kick-off), with a little more than Currie Cup log points on the
line.

Should Jake White’s men do the double over the Sharks this year,
after their 41-14 win at Loftus, it could knock the once feared Sharks down
more than a peg or two.

A lot of the Bulls’ creativity has come from the masterstroke
move of playing Cornal Hendricks and Stedman Gans together in midfield, who
have carved gorges out of defences thus far.

In Louw, however, the Sharks have a unique hybrid player,
who started his rugby career as a flank forward and transitioned into the
midfield at the Sharks Academy. 

He can give as much brutality in defence as he does a spark on offence.

“Our game plan on attack allows us to work and gives us
freedom to look for space,” said Louw.

“I can only focus on getting in as many mini-battles as
I can. It’s the same with defence; it’s about work rate and that’s what ties
into our game plan as a unit and I try to deliver on that during the game.

“The physicality from when I was a forward helps me a
little in the backline. Playing flank and being versatile has helped my rugby
quite a bit.

“The Bulls look even fresher than they did at the end
of last year and even at the beginning of this year, in Super Rugby.

“They’ve done some good things and you’ve got to give
them due credit.

“[But] we’re focusing on ourselves and we know what to
do. We’ve got a plan and it’s up to us to execute it on the day.”

READ | Marius Louw: Not your average choir boy

Louw also added that he has enjoyed playing alongside flyhalf
Curwin Bosch in the “five-eighth” partnership, as well as seeing the
latter’s growth into being the fulcrum of the Sharks team.

“I’ve known Curwin for a long time,” said Louw.

“When he first got here, I remember his first cap as if
it was just the other day, I trained with him. Now he’s already the most capped Super Rugby player
in our team.

“It’s always good to have a guy that’s young, hungry
and experienced with you on the field. We communicate quite well and hopefully
it can continue.”

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