Roux relishes the RDS roar

Young South African keen to impress fans after move to Leinster

Peter Breen

AS opportunities for a 21-year-old go, a year sampling life in Europe was one that Quinn Roux deemed too good an opportunity to turn down.

The Pretoria-born lock arrived in Ireland three weeks ago and has spent the intervening time getting up to speed with his new surroundings; not least absorbing information on new calls, drills and moves to enable him to try and hit the ground running.

More recently, though, it has begun to feel a lot more exciting with the promise of playing in front of the RDS faithful a huge incentive for someone determined to make a positive impression.

"The last few weeks have been good and it has been a help getting to know the players and coaches because it's a new environment for me," Roux exclusively revealed to the Evening Herald in his first interview since arriving from South Africa.

"I have been really impressed by the talent in the squad and by the facilities, but most of all it's clear that we're going to have a really competitive squad once everybody gets back fit and healthy and the Ireland players return.

"It's only natural that it can take a bit of time to settle into a new team and I suppose it's the same as anyone who's starting off in a new role; you want to make a positive early impression. And I'm no different in that regard."

The timing of Roux's move to Leinster was slightly unusual in that a lot of overseas players have tended to move hemispheres in their mid-to-late 20s having earned their stripes playing Super 15.

"To move to Ireland at this time in my life was a great opportunity for me to develop both as a person and as a player. When I first became aware of Leinster's interest I read up a great deal about the club and the consistent message the more research I did was that it is a province on the up. There's a lot of expectation and the challenge is there for me and all the players to keep the head down, listen to the coaches and take whatever opportunities might come along. The team has enjoyed a lot of success in recent years, so with that success comes a lot of expectation, especially seeing as we're the reigning Heineken Cup champions.

"But a massive focus amongst the players and coaches is to become a more consistent force in the PRO12. Last week wasn't the best of starts, but we've regrouped and we're going to aim to rectify some problem areas this week."

It has been a good year for Roux. He was a member of the Western Province side which won the 2012 Vodacom Cup and in June he made the first of four appearances for the Stormers in the Super 15 win over the Bulls. Interestingly, of those four games, all of them were in his native South Africa, so the move also marked the first time he travelled overseas.

"Yes, that's true", he grinned. "So it's a really big move in that regard! But it isn't the first time in my life that I've moved away. When I left school I moved from Pretoria to Cape Town and that was a big decision because you're moving so far away from your family.

"Moving to Dublin appeals to me, although I haven't had the chance to explore the city and the surrounding towns and counties which I've heard are beautiful. The weather has been better than I expected too which is nice! But the exploring can wait for now. I'm here to play and that's my sole focus."

Roux credits former Stormers coach Rassie Erasmus as having played a big role in developing him in the early days of his career. A quick glance across the calibre of player he has heretofore featured alongside for the South African franchise would suggest that he is ready for a battle in a thriving culture.

In the pack he featured alongside the likes of Andries Bekker and Schalk Burger, while out wide there was ex Munster centre and current Springbok captain Jean de Villiers as well as speedster Bryan Habana.

"As much as I would like to, I know that I'm not going to expect miracles immediately. I'm still adapting to the different style of rugby and that might take a few games to really get up to speed. I know how competitive games here in the league will be and it will be another challenge once the European competition starts.

"It's a slightly different style of coaching that I'm used to as well, but the coaches here in Leinster have been really helpful and are giving me advice.

"The players, too, have been great and it's nice to have a few South Africans here like Richardt (Strauss) and Heinke (van der Merwe) who can show you the ropes because they have been on a similar journey to me and they both have a lot of experience in the game. I'm still on the lookout for a new home so hopefully that will fall into place.

"I'd describe myself as quite focused and I tend not to get too nervous before games. I just love to play and I'm really excited about and grateful for the opportunity that I've been presented with."