Francois Louw admits he’s feeling the strain of racking up as many air miles as dadedevil skydiver Felix Baumgartner going between club and country – but the flanker is adamant that won’t mean him leaving Bath.
Such has been the impression that Louw has made since moving to the Rec last year that he was handed the club captaincy in mid-season and earned a call-up for the Springboks in the Rugby Championship last month.
In between playing against New Zealand and Australia, Louw flew back for the fixture against London Irish before jetting off to France to lead Bath against Agen.
But while there would be no shortage of suitors should he decide to return to South Africa, the 27-year-old told The Rugby Paper he is committed to seeing through the plans Gary Gold, who coached him at U20 level for South Africa, is putting in place.
He said: “Gary came with a game plan and ethos and the guys have really brought into that. Things have not gone the way we felt they would so far. We are not quite executing his plans like we would like but once we can pull that off we will be a formidable team.
“I really feel he can bring the best out of me. I can still improve a lot as a player and he is the coach to help me do that.
“The travelling has been tough. You are torn between the two. This is my team and my club who I am committed to, but representing your country has always been the first thing for me.
“It is a challenge not just from the rugby perspectivet but personally as well: being away from my family for so long.
“I am not complaining because it has been an amazing ride but it is about finding a balance between the two teams that allows you to give your all for club and country.
“Gary can help me do that. I am very happy with where I am – Bath is a great place with great people and I want to be part of their future success.”
Louw’s involvement with the Springboks is likely to begin again during the autumn internationals and it would be no surprise to the ex-Stormers openside if, given some injuries, he found himself lining up against club teammate Kyle Eastmond at Twickenham on November 24.
“Kyle is definitely up there in terms of skill and attack with guys I have played with in my career,” he said.
“He is unique – I can’t compare him to anyone I have every played with before. He’s quite a short, stocky guy with incredible speed off the mark and skill with his hands.
“Defensively he is impressive as well. He is not afraid to get stuck in and for a smaller guy he punches well above his weight in the tackle.
“He is very vocal on the field making sure that we attack as a team.
“I see him as playing a pivotal role for Bath and there’s a good chance he will get a call up.”