Bekker: A giant in every sense

Thu, 04 Apr 2013 15:26
Large andries bekker stormers h s Large andriesbekker2005 Large andriesbekker2008 Large andriesbekker2009 Large bekker line out630

Springbok lock Andries Bekker will become the first Stormers player to reach the 100-game milestone on Saturday.

Springbok lock Andries Bekker will become the first Stormers player to reach the 100-game milestone for the Cape franchise in Saturday’s Super Rugby derby against the Cheetahs.

Star wing Bryan Habana reached the 100-game mark last year - with his Bulls and Stormers caps added together - whilst AJ Venter (Cats and Sharks) was a Super Rugby centurion before playing for the Stormers.

Bekker, however, will become the first official Stormers centurion come kick-off in Bloemfontein on Saturday, and he admits: "It is quite special. I really never thought I'd become the first Stormers player to reach the landmark."

Bekker's Stormers career began back in 2005 and he has a vague recollection of those early days of Super Rugby, saying: "My first game was against the Highlanders in Invercargill... I was so nervous, I can barely remember what I was thinking then - but I can tell you that playing 100 games for the Stormers was the last thing on my mind back then!

"For me, playing for Western Province, the Stormers... the Springboks - it's a massive honour and a privilege but you have the same feeling each every time you run out; you just want to play your best and give your best and pay back everyone that has supported you - no matter who you're playing for. But, that said, the Stormers are very, very close to my heart and Newlands is such a great place to play your rugby too."

There have been highs and lows for Bekker and the Stormers since his debut, but the 2,08m giant would not trade his experiences in Cape Town for anything.

Speaking about some of those highs and lows, he reveals: "As lows go... Well, I'm not a good loser and I normally sulk for a few days after a loss - I'm like my dad in that way. So, any loss is a low for me.

“But, yes, there was that big loss to the Bulls in Pretoria back in my first season - that hurt a lot and we got grilled by Nick Mallett in the changeroom afterwards. That was a real eye-opener for a lot of us players, but the key from any bad experience is to learn from it.

"For me, the 2010 season was a real highlight," adds the star Stormers forward, "I think we played some good rugby and made a lot of friends along the way. It's my standout [memory] amongst many, many good memories I've had at the Stormers over the last nine seasons."

The 2013 season will be Bekker's last in a Stormers jersey, with the 29-cap Bok having signed a deal to further his career in Japan at the end of the current Super Rugby season.

He says: "I've played all my rugby here - from my days as a schoolboy until now - so it was quite a tough decision to make [the move to Japan].

"I am really excited about the new experience and a new lifestyle that awaits my wife [Elaine] and I, but right now all I am focused on is playing well for the Stormers and helping the team win a trophy. It's my last chance, so I'd love to say goodbye to Cape Town as a Super Rugby winner."

Before that can happen, however, there is the not so small matter of facing the Cheetahs away this weekend - in Bekker's 100th game - and, then, hosting the Sharks at home before the side travels to Australasia for a tough four-week tour.

"It's all about this weekend and the challenge of facing the Cheetahs," says Bekker, when asked about his team's tough schedule in the coming weeks.

"The Cheetahs are never an easy side in Bloemfontein and they're one of the form sides in Super Rugby at present. At the same time, we have a few things we need to rectify from last weekend [against the Crusaders], so we need to concentrate on our own game and get our own execution right."

Of course, whilst it would be fitting for Bekker to finish on the winning side in his 100th Stormers match - his only worry is registering a victory for the sake of the Stormers.

"I lost my 50th match for the Stormers [against the Brumbies]," remembers Bekker, "losing my 100th is not something I'd want to repeat, but it's all about the team winning on Saturday - it's not about me.

"I don't want a fuss made about this being my 100th game for the Stormers - those people close to me will know what this means to me. Like I said, it's a special feeling, but I want a win for the team's sake - not mine."

Andries Bekker factfile:

Position: Lock
Height: 2.08m; weight 120kg
Born: 05/12/83, Goodwood
Province: Western Province
Provincial caps: 38
Provincial points: 60 (12t)
Provincial debut: 2004 v Boland
Super Rugby caps: 99
Super Rugby points: 65 (13t)
Super Rugby debut: 2005 v Highlanders
Test Caps: 29
Test Points: 5 (1t)
Test Debut: 2008 v Wales
South African Super Rugby centurions:

125: AJ Venter (Cats 19, Sharks 96, Stormers 10) and John Smit (Sharks)
124: Victor Matfield (Cats 8, Bulls 116)
122: Stefan Terblanché (Sharks)
116: Danie Rossouw (Bulls)
113: Pedrie Wannenburg (Bulls) and Adi Jacobs (Bulls 21, Cats 4, Sharks 87)
112: Fourie du Preez and Morné Steyn (both Bulls)
110: Jacques Botes (Sharks)
109: Bryan Habana (Bulls 61, Stormers 48)
108: Ollie le Roux (Natal 24, Sharks 60, Cats 5, Cheetahs 21)
107: Wynand Olivier (Bulls)
103: Jannie du Plessis (Cheetahs 26, Sharks 77)
102: Albert van den Berg (Cats 7, Sharks 95)
100: Bakkies Botha (Bulls)

There are currently no matches being played
Sat, 10 October 2015
Free State Cheetahs v Sharks 12h00 Bloemfontein
Samoa v Scotland 13h30 Newcastle
Golden Lions v Griquas 14h00 Ellis Park
Australia v Wales 15h45 London
England v Uruguay 19h00 Manchester
Sun, 11 October 2015
Argentina v Namibia 11h00 Leicester
Italy v Romania 13h30 Exeter
France v Ireland 15h45 Cardiff
United States v Japan 19h00 Gloucester
Fri, 16 October 2015
Blue Bulls v Western Province 17h00 Pretoria
Connacht v Zebre 18h30 Sportsground
Glasgow Warriors v Dragons 18h35 Scotstoun
Scarlets v Leinster 18h35 Parc y Scarlets
Edinburgh v Ulster 18h45 BT Murrayfield
Fri, 09 October 2015
New Zealand v Tonga 47 | 9
Western Province v EP Kings 45 | 14
Pumas v Blue Bulls 24 | 25
Wed, 07 October 2015
Namibia v Georgia 16 | 17
South Africa v United States 64 | 0
Tue, 06 October 2015
Fiji v Uruguay 47 | 15
Canada v Romania 15 | 17
Sun, 04 October 2015
Ireland v Italy 16 | 9
Argentina v Tonga 45 | 16
Zebre v Scarlets 8 | 20
Sat, 03 October 2015
England v Australia 13 | 33
Connacht v Cardiff Blues 36 | 31
South Africa v Scotland 34 | 16
Samoa v Japan 5 | 26
Leinster v Dragons 37 | 13
Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Waratahs 16 11 0 5 52
Brumbies 16 9 0 7 47
Rebels 16 7 0 9 36
Reds 16 4 0 12 22
Force 16 3 0 13 19
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Hurricanes 16 14 0 2 66
Highlanders 16 11 0 5 53
Chiefs 16 10 0 6 48
Crusaders 16 9 0 7 46
Blues 16 3 0 13 20
Pool SA
Team P W D L Pts
Stormers 16 10 1 5 45
Lions 16 9 1 6 42
Bulls 16 7 0 9 38
Sharks 16 7 0 9 34
Cheetahs 16 5 0 11 26