34-year-old front-rower Schalk Ferreira is the most capped Isuzu Southern Kings player in the team’s record books, being the longest-serving player since 2013 where he has amassed 63 caps in total – the most by any player at the franchise.
He is the side’s third-most capped player in the Guinness PRO14 championship behind winger Yaw Penxe, who has had 31 starts, and centre Berton Klaasen, who has made 27 starts and has four matches off the bench.
Despite his age, Ferreira is known as one of the hardest workers in the team, his leadership an invaluable asset to a largely young Isuzu Southern Kings side and his experience – having played Vodacom Super Rugby for a decade and experience in the French Top 14 league for Toulouse – makes him a valuable asset in the Port Elizabeth-based side.
“I work hard on my own fitness. I work on things that I can control – my fitness I can control, my work rate and my effort are the things I can control. You see props going on until the age of 40, especially in the Northern Hemisphere,” Ferreira said on the positive contributions he makes each week.
“So I am pushing myself – making the tackles, doing the basics right and trying to be a leader in the team in doing that. There is no better leader than a leader that leads by example – you have to be in the front line.”
An area where Ferreira’s expertise is most need in the team is in the set pieces – something the Isuzu Southern Kings continue to work hard to improve.
The side has a few times been criticised on their scrums. While Ferreira admits to often coming short of their targets at scrum time, he acknowledges the strides the team is making with a relatively young from row which has often been affected by injury this season.
“You don’t build a good scrum overnight – it takes a lot of structure, understanding and time. We will not use the excuse of having a lot of our front row players being injured. We are working on our systems, we are laying the ground level for something to come,” the prop said.
“I think there is a steady incline. I know there has been some criticism, but we have been making progress. We believe in [scrum consultant] Robbi Kempson and what he has put in as our scrum coach, but it will take time.
“One can always work on their own personal technique, but you don’t lose the scrum as an individual, you lose it as an eight-man pack.
That has been our focus – to work harder as an eight-man pack, not just the front row or just the locks, but an all-eight effort.”