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Snyman warming to new life in the colder climate

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: February 08, 2013

By Robert Lloyd

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JOE Snyman has played most of his rugby in the subtropical temperatures of Durban and Port Elizabeth.

It is fair to say the past couple of months have involved a bit of acclimatising.

There has been driving sleet and rain in Cork, the icy chill of Dublin's RDS, not to mention the dumping of a "snow bomb" on South Wales for a couple of days last month.

At least Galway's windswept Sportsground was ticked off the Scarlets' calendar in early September.

It is all a far cry from the Nelson Mandela Stadium on the Eastern Cape or Johannesburg's Ellis Park, where Snyman spent two seasons with the Golden Lions.

But you won't find the 26-year-old second row complaining.

"It is a new challenge and one that I am really enjoying," said Snyman ahead of this evening's Pro12 clash with Connacht at Parc y Scarlets.

"The cold is still really new to me.

Difficult

"It is a much drier game in South Africa and here it is much wetter and more forward based, but it is nice playing in a different environment.

"It is always difficult coming to a different country, but with three South Africans here, me, Jacobie (Adriaanse) and George (Earle) it has made it a lot easier. We spend a few nights with each other a week, having a brai (barbecue) or a meal.

"The guys at the Scarlets have also been amazing, the players, coaches and the fans. People are tweeting you, Facebooking you, stopping you for a chat in the streets. The passion for rugby in Wales and specifically in Llanelli is amazing.

"We have been coming off some losses, but the fans are still backing us and were screaming like crazy from the stands last weekend."

Snyman arrived in late September after contract issues were ironed out between the Scarlets and his former South African province Eastern Kings.

He has since made 15 appearances for the West Wales region, producing arguably his most impressive display yet in last weekend's 40-19 LV= Cup victory over Leicester Tigers.

Carrying strongly and hitting hard in defence, the former South African Under-19 international also got stuck into an experienced Tigers eight and was involved in the odd dust-up in an Anglo-Welsh contest which belied its 'dead rubber' tag.

"It is always nice coming back into training this week with a win," he added.

"The boys have been working hard for a number of weeks, it just hasn't been going our way.

"But everything seemed to go well for us on Sunday — the scrums, line-outs, we all stood up as a pack and we know we need to do the same again against Connacht.

"It is a new week and a new challenge. It is a very important few weeks for us and consistency is important.

"We have to perform in these games because it is going to make or break our season.

"We haven't performed as well as we wanted to do in the other competitions, but we can still make the play-offs and that is what everyone is buying into."

Snyman is joined by compatriot George Earle in the second row as one of six changes from the side that ended a five-match losing run last weekend.

Flanker Josh Turnbull has been released from Rob Howley's Six Nations squad, but scrum-half Tavis Knoyle is carrying an injury and hasn't been made available.

Also sidelined are props Rhodri Jones (shoulder) and Jacobie Adriaanse (dead leg) so Phil John and Samson Lee come in alongside Emyr Phillips in the front row.

Earle resumes his partnership with Snyman at lock, while skipper Rob McCusker has recovered from an eye problem to slot into his preferred blindside flanker role.

Behind the scrum, Easterby has rewarded half-backs Owen Williams and Aled Davies for their fine display against the Tigers, with Williams set for his Pro12 debut. Nick Reynolds and Adam Warren are also given a vote of confidence in midfield.

The Scarlets go into the match in fifth spot in the Pro12 table, but only four points separate Glasgow (41) in second and Munster (37) in sixth.

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