CAPE TOWN – Listening to Marco Jansen van Vuren speaking, you can just hear in his voice that he is longing to get a chance to play at scrumhalf again.
It is totally understandable, considering that is the position where he has spent most of his career, and where he earned his SA Schools and Under-20 caps.
But, with his 25th birthday a few days away, the Hoerskool Transvalia product knows that game time is the main currency in rugby, and that is what he is getting at outside centre during the Rainbow Cup SA.
Stedman Gans’ injury and subsequent transfer to the Blitzboks Sevens team has opened up the No 13 jersey for Jansen van Vuren, and he acknowledges the growing pains that comes with such a technically tricky role.
“I have played a couple of games in a row, and it’s a first time for me actually, just finding my feet. You get confidence like that to play in the No 13 channel. It is quite a challenge at 13, but Jake’s (White) backing me all the way,” Jansen van Vuren said ahead of Saturday’s clash against the Sharks in Durban.
“I have a played a lot of games in a row now, which makes a difference as you can settle quite nicely in that position. As a Np 9, you are just behind the defensive line and you just organise the defence.
“At No 13, there are more decisions to make, and there are front doors and back doors, and the ball can go anywhere. As a 13, you have to make good decisions on defence.”
But does he still want to be a halfback? “It is difficult for me – if I had to move back to No 9, it would probably be a big challenge for me. I played there most of the years, so it’s not that difficult to take that role back again,” Jansen van Vuren said.
“When you have to play at No 9 again, that muscle memory will kick in, but at the moment, I am enjoying it at No 13. We have very good No 9 here, and the chance for me is at 13. Where Jake wants to play me, I’m comfortable with that. He has told me there is a possibility in future that I might play at scrumhalf again. In today’s rugby, it’s good to be able to play in a few positions.”
His immediate challenge is a big one – Springbok No 13 Lukhanyo Am lies in wait at Kings Park on Saturday. Jansen van Vuren will have to be sound defensively, but can also put Am under pressure with ball-in-hand, considering his 1.88m, 88kg frame. “Lukhanyo is a great player, won a World Cup and is one of the best No 13s in the world. In our defensive system, it makes stuff a little bit easier for me. With Cornal (Hendricks) and our wings, it makes it a lot easier. I have played a couple of times against Lukhanyo, and it’s a good challenge,” he said.
“The Sharks will give it all, but in defence, you stick to what works. We are doing really well at the moment, and if we stick to our systems and plans, then we will be (successful).”