Former King has 'huge potential'
Sat, 19 Jul 2014 09:07
Rising South African lock forward Rynier Bernardo has been described as a player with 'huge potential', ahead of his entry into the European game.
The 22-year-old former Southern Kings second row forward, Bernardo, has been signed by Welsh franchise Ospreys to replace British and Irish Lions player Ian Evans.
Bernardo, with 10 Super Rugby caps to his credit and another b19 first class matches for the Eastern Province Kings, was brought on board to bolster the region's front five resources - following the departure of Evans to English Championship side Bristol.
A relative unknown to Welsh fans, Bernardo, who has signed a three-year deal, played for the Kings in the 2013 Super Rugby season - before they were eliminated by the Lions in a two-match promotion-relegation series.
He didn't play in the first three matches of the season - being behind David Bulbring, Steven Sykes and Daniel Adongo in the pecking order.
However, an injury to Sykes saw him included for their match against the Crusaders in Christchurch and he replaced Adongo to make his Super Rugby debut. Another substitute appearance followed in their next match against the Hurricanes, before he made his first start in the competition in the dramatic 28–all draw against the Brumbies in Canberra - where an injury time try by Cornell du Preez plus subsequent conversion from Demetri Catrakilis secured an away draw for the Kings.
He also started their next match, in Melbourne against the Rebels, an equally dramatic match with a Catrakilis drop goal in injury time securing the Kings' first ever away win.
He dropped to the bench for their next match against the Bulls, before returning to the starting line-up for matches against the Cheetahs and Waratahs.
Three more substitute appearances followed, bringing his tally to 10 matches in total.
And the Ospreys are convinced he is a player with huge potential.
I have been here a couple of weeks now and I am really enjoying my time here - it's also great to see a bit of sun," the 1.99m (six foot, six inches) 102 kg (16 stone, one pound) forward told the South Wales Evening Post during a break in pre-season preparations at the Ospreys' training base at Llandarcy.
"Do I feel the pressure of having to replace a Wales international? No, not at all.
"I don't see it as stepping into someone else's shoes, I see it as making my own shoe, putting my foot down and making a mark."
Bernardo is one of Wales' youngest South African imports.
When he signed, the Ospreys heralded him as a potential Springbok in waiting, so was it a difficult decision to leave a promising career in his homeland behind?
"Yes, it was a very big decision," he admitted.
"I am still fairly young, not many guys my age decide to leave their home country and come abroad.
"Obviously, I spoke to my family, girlfriend and players in South Africa who have come to Europe and after various points of view I decided to come over here.
"The advice that was given me was simply that I had to make the best decision for me rugby wise."
Inevitably, Bernardo will have to make the transition from the more free-flowing style of Super Rugby to a Northern Hemisphere game that can often be dominated by defensive structures and a huge emphasis on the contact area.
"Super Rugby is a great tournament, an international tournament and it is great travelling abroad and playing tough rugby every week," he added.
"But Super rugby in itself has various styles - New Zealand teams like throwing it around, while South African sides like banging it up with the forwards. There is not one style, but it is a more expansive, attack-orientated game.
"Rugby in general is a physical game no matter where you go, but in the northern hemisphere it is more forward orientated, there are a lot of things you can learn and I am looking forward to that."
Source: South Wales Evening Post
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