Pierre Schoeman has settled into international rugby to the manor born, but he feels he’s still learning all the time.
The South African-born prop was prepared to wait five years for eligibility to play for his adopted country but it took just three with World Rugby easing the regulations during Covid.
Called up to Scotland in the autumn, he’s taken his Edinburgh form into an international shirt, and couldn’t be prouder to be playing in his first Six Nations.
‘It’s such a rich culture’
You've gotta be brave to go jackling in rugby.
Pierre Schoeman with a big impact on Anthony Jelonch here. pic.twitter.com/7ObFQaCVMX
— Murray Kinsella (@Murray_Kinsella) March 3, 2022
“Growing up as a kid, you always watched the Six Nations,” he said. “It’s such a massive thing, such a rich culture.
“It’s been a massive achievement for myself and for my family. But it’s not just about me as a player, it’s about filling the jersey that legends before me have worn, about giving back and making a difference.
“It’s about learning from big wins like England, but also from the losses like Wales and France.
“You learn so much from those games, and you have so much responsibility to tidy up the contribution you make personally, but also as a team. We can assist better on defence or even if it’s just communication.”
‘I’m proud so I want to give it my all’
It's time to hit the weights with Zander Fagerson and Pierre Schoeman at Oriam! 💪 pic.twitter.com/uOVR26I5wM
— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) February 15, 2022
Italy in Rome will be a big test, but if the preparation is right, the result should take care of itself, he feels.
“You know all eyes across the globe are on the Six Nations,” he said. “There’s no easy test, and we’ve seen that in this tournament.
“Every time you get selected for the squad it’s a massive responsibility, but it’s also a massive honour. I’m proud so I want to give it my all, both in training and the game.”
He has learned much from another South African who translated to playing in Europe – Scotland scrum coach Pieter de Villiers, who had such a distinguished career with France.
“We as props have massive respect for Pieter – he’s made such a big difference and impact on the props individually, and that helps the props with their future.
“He has a big voice in world rugby as well, playing for France all those years, and he was one of the best tightheads ever technically and physically.
“It’s been massive. I’ve just been part of this since the autumn and I’ve learned so much. He’s helped me personally so much – if you create this good habit it will take you far.”
‘Humility is key for me’
— Pierre Schoeman (@pierraSCHOEMIES) November 21, 2021
Schoeman’s huge personality has made him a big favourite with Edinburgh fans, and the same is happening with Scotland, although he’s cautious not to get ahead of himself.
“Humility is key for me personally, but there are stages in the game where you get different leaders,” he said.
“Leaders maybe with communication and that can be speaking but also listening. Then you get guys that bring a bit of energy around the defence.
“I wouldn’t necessarily stand up in a meeting and say ‘Hey, do this, do that.’That’s for the more experienced guys in the team.
“I like in training to boost the guy next to me. Give an uplift with positivity, with energy, saying ‘let’s win the moment’.
“So I pride myself on those areas. But there are always work-ons, and that’s what you learn in Test rugby.
“Switch off for one second and it might be a penalty. Switch off for another second and you lose the ball. It’s the key moments that you have to be better on, and I’m loving that challenge.”