Kockott kicking up a storm
Kockott kicking up a stormSHARE
A relative unknown to the Top 14 before his arrival at Castres, South African scrumhalf Rory Kockott has been one of the season's sensations.
Currently top scorer in the top flight with an average of 15 points per match, the 26-year-old joined the three-time French champions as a replacement for Thierry Lacrampe 18 months ago.
And this term he has racked up 196 points, including five tries, in 13 matches, to lead the scoring charts ahead of Toulon's English star Jonny Wilkinson.
Kockott spent five seasons with the Sharks in Durban, as well as a brief stint with the Lions in Johannesburg, before heading to France.
He did not initially find the cultural switch from South Africa to France a smooth one, as coaching duo Laurent Travers and Laurent Labit soon discovered.
"He had trouble following instructions," admitted Labit.
When Kockott quit South Africa, where he was understudy to Springbok international Ruan Pienaar at the Sharks, who has since moved to Ulster, adapting to life in France hit the obvious language barrier which he now seems to have mastered.
Kockott also admitted he "needed to put order in his life, both sportingly and personally." before he could move on.
The decision to join Castres was also influenced by the strong contingent of South African players at the club that include Jannie Bornman, Michael Coetzee, Antonie Claassen and Pedrie Wannenburg.
A rugged and skilful player who likes to hover close to the forwards, his kicking game is also attracting attention and although he has nailed down a place in the starting line-up at Castres, he has yet to win his first international cap.
"He is a robust defender and gifted with a kicking game that allows him to be dangerous with both feet," said Labit.
Undeterred about mixing it up with the opposition and even the larger forwards, he was once sent off and suspended for punching Otago Highlanders back row forward Andrew Thomson while with the Sharks.
The son of a farmer from south-eastern South Africa, he has now found the French lifestyle to his liking and has since settled down in the region – although his remarkable progress has attracted the attention of other European clubs.
"I'm just thinking about the next match and finishing the season," said Kockott who is under contract until 2014 but must surely have the Castres management thinking about extending that deal.
But the immediate task in hand is turning out for Castres, currently joint third in the table, when they entertain defending champions Toulouse on Sunday.