Keagan Johannes hunting No 9 jersey as Jacques du Plessis joins Bulls
By Ashfak Mohamed 14h ago
Share this article:
CAPE TOWN – Having grown up on the Cape West Coast, Keagan Johannes has a ready-made hero in Embrose Papier, who comes from the same region, at the Bulls.
But while Papier – who was born in Clanwilliam and spent time in Lambert’s Bay and Darling before moving to Pretoria – is a Springbok, it doesn’t mean that Johannes – from Mamre – is in total awe.
The 21-year-old halfback is determined to make his mark in the senior team after excelling in the Under-21 title-winning side last year. He has already earned a few caps for Jake White’s side in recent months, with his quick service from the base, big boot and incredible pace already evident.
Those are attributes that Papier also possesses, and with Ivan van Zyl joining English club Leicester soon, Johannes will have an opportunity to challenge his West Coast senior for the No 9 jersey in the Rainbow Cup, which starts against the Lions on April 24 at Loftus Versfeld (4pm kickoff).
Johannes mentions that his dad, Franco, is his mentor, having played provincial rugby for the Western Province Disas as a scrumhalf and flyhalf.
But he is also enjoying rubbing shoulders with Bulls consultant Fourie du Preez, and learning from Springbok pivot Morné Steyn.
“It’s definitely great to be able to play alongside Embrose Papier. He was someone that I as a young player – although he is also still young – looked up to, to be like him. I brought a lot of his game into my game as well, and it’s nice to be able to play with him,” said Johannes, who also attended Garsfontein High School in Pretoria, just like Papier.
“I am very privileged to have gotten the opportunity to come to school here and come through the systems, and join the Bulls. It’s about opportunities, and that is why players from the Cape come here – not everybody has the opportunity to go to big schools in the Western Cape, such as Paarl Gym or Paarl Boys.”
But about that No 9 jersey… Johannes said that White wants the Bulls scrumhalves to bring their own unique style to the side, which is where he feels he can make an impact.
“It’s obviously your X-factor as a scrumhalf that you must bring to the system. I think I am an all-round scrumhalf. I can run with the ball, I do have a pass and kicking game,” he said.
“So, my main thing is just to take bits from Embrose and Ivan, who are the senior scrumhalves. All our scrumhalves are hunting that number one spot, so we will keep ourselves on our toes.”
Meanwhile, yesterday the Bulls confirmed the signing of Montpellier utility forward Jacques du Plessis on a three-year deal, which starts on July 1. Du Plessis, who hails from Pretoria and played out of Loftus Versfeld from 2013 to 2015, will provide valuable depth at blindside flank and lock.
Tighthead prop Marcel van der Merwe has also been loaned to French club La Rochelle as a ‘medical joker’.