Springbok anchor Ruan Dreyer is primed for maximum impact in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship clash between the Emirates Lions and DHL Stormers on Saturday.
The South African teams resume their celebrated regional derbies in round seven of the URC this week, and the Highveld will showcase the first blockbuster tie when the Stormers battle the Lions at Ellis Park.
The Lions are proving to be no pushovers this season, with three wins from five matches for Ivan van Rooyen’s troops that includes an unbeaten tour to Wales and Scotland.
Yet, scrum coach Julian Redelinghuys needs no reminding of the Joburgers’ poor returns in recent derbies – just one win in six against local rivals last season, before a defeat by the Vodacom Bulls at the start of 2022-23.
“We have performed worse against South African teams than against foreign teams,” said Redelinghuys.
“That is what the stats are showing us. That is something we are aware of. We want to correct that and there is no better opportunity than to do it at Ellis Park. It is a chance for us to change that perception.”
The scrums is a particular area where the Lions have held their own this term, and that’s thanks in no small part to Dreyer, who made four appearances for South Africa in 2017 and has this season stepped up in the wake of Carlu Sadie’s exit to the Sharks.
“That is the thing about rugby, players moving,” Redelinghuys said. “When someone moves, someone else fills that gap. [Dreyer’s] got an incredible work rate and he’s a team man. He works extremely hard for the players next to him.
“It is great to see him playing some of the best rugby he’s played. I know he’s played for the Boks before but I believe he is in a good space now. When you are in a better space it allows individuals to rise.”