The leadership qualities of Cats captain Wikus van Heerden have made a huge impression on Bok coach Jake White.
This follows White’s statement last weekend that if John Smit were injured, he would appoint someone from outside his current squad to take over the job. The Bok coach believes you chose your captain first and then the rest of the team.
“I’ve only had Wikus with me once [on the end of year tour] and the impression that he made was huge. He put the interests of the team ahead of his own ambitions,” White told the Cape Times.
“He impressed me a hell of a lot as a leader. He was always positive and even though he competed for a position in the side he was always supportive of the incumbents. Wikus was also equally friendly to everyone, whether they were senior or junior players.”
The Cats have been woeful this season, but White says the captain can’t be blamed.
“You can’t hold the Cats’ record against Wikus. I think he has been quite good. Jono Gibbes has also been a very good captain for one of New Zealand’s worst franchises (the Chiefs),” said White.
White admits Van Heerden may not have as much natural talent as some other loose forwards, but his courage and determination compensate for that.
“He’s got five Springbok caps and comes from a rugby family. He won’t let you down. He might not be a world star, but he’ll make people around him play much better. It is a case of thinking out of the box. I don’t believe there are currently guys in the team who can step in for John.”