After impressing in the Varsity Cup, Grobler has become known as one of South Africa’s most promising hookers.
At 112kg and 1.81m, the 22-year-old is the typical old-school hooker – physical, strong and a good scrummager.
Originally from Bloemfontein, Grobler’s parents sent him to Paarl Gymnasium.
Once he had matriculated, he returned to his home town to study agriculture at Free State University, but rugby was always his main focus and he caught the eye of Shimlas coach Jaco Swanepoel.
‘I first saw him when he played for one of the hostels,’ says Swanepoel. ‘I was impressed with his physicality and the fact that he is an exceptional lineout thrower. These are two important qualities that a hooker should have.’
Swanepoel then drafted Grobler into the Shimlas 1st XV squad and he made his debut for the club in the Varsity Cup. He produced some impressive performances, despite suffering two injuries.
‘He started off the season brightly and played well in the opening games, but he was unfortunate to pick up those injuries,’ says the coach. ‘He broke his finger and then suffered a shoulder injury on his return. But I don’t think he’s injury-prone, and he will be back to the top of his game once he returns to match fitness.’
Grobler signed a one-year contract with the Free State Cheetahs in July. Swanepoel believes the player will prosper at the union and provide them with a contrasting type of game.
‘He’s a different kind of hooker to the Cheetahs’ first-choice hookers, Richardt and Adriaan Strauss, but not so different that he won’t be able to slot into one of their positions.
‘You won’t find him in the wings like many modern-day hookers, you’ll see him do a lot of work off the ball at the rucks and breakdowns.
‘He just needs a proper opportunity to showcase his talents and with that experience he can only get better.’
Jake White also rates the hooker highly and believes Grobler is definitely one for the future.
‘He’s very physical, a good athlete and very strong,’ White says. ‘As a Paarl Gym old boy, he comes with a great pedigree as well.
‘Hans is a future star and I can see him playing Currie Cup and Super 14 rugby in the very near future. He might not be brilliant at the flashy things, but the boy can play.’
By Gareth Duncan