South African lineout specialist Stephan Lewies aims to provide Harlequins with the Premiership’s best set-piece, having learned from the best in the business.
Lewies, who arrived from the Lions this summer, counts Springbok great Victor Matfield among his mentors and is determined to make it count.
The 6ft 7in (2.01m) second row, 27, told TRP: “Everyone talks about the physicality of the game in England compared to Super Rugby, but it means it’s a bit more tactical and my strong points are around lineouts and my running game.
“I’ll look to add value in the Premiership and Victor Matfield has helped me a lot in the past. He was peerless in the position and I’ve spoken to him many times, so I’m very passionate about lineouts and spend a lot of time analysing other teams.
“I’m really excited about it and with Matt Symons and the other guys here, we’ve got good depth in our second row. We complement each other well so, hopefully, we can take that into the games now and really make things happen up front.”
With 46 South Africans set to feature in the Premiership this season, Lewies revealed it had long been an ambition of his to play in England.
“There were other options but growing up there were Harlequins clubs all over and I played for their teams in Pretoria and Durban. When the opportunity came up to play for the main club, I thought that would be a cool thing to do.
“It’s a club with a great history and Paul Gustard being the coach was another big factor. He’s a great coach, with a huge vision for the club – something I wanted to buy into.
“Since I started playing rugby, I’ve always thought I’d like to do a stint in the UK and experience English rugby, especially with the smaller stadiums and passionate crowds. I’m really looking forward to getting my teeth into it.”
Capped once by South Africa against Scotland in 2014, Lewies hopes success for Harlequins will help to rekindle his Test career. He added: “It’s disappointing not to have won more caps but seeing how well Cobus Reinach, Faf De Klerk and Vincent Koch have done since coming here, it gives you hope of getting back into the green and gold.
“The ambition at Quins is to get into the play-offs and compete for the title. We have the talent to make it a realistic goal.”
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