Bok tighthead Malherbe was the person most surprised at his first Test try
Such was his surprise he thought the referee’s outstretched arm was to signal a penalty.
Springbok tighthead prop Frans Malherbe recounted the moments that led to his first Test try against Canada last week. He had to wait 35 Tests for that moment.
It is a big thing for a tighthead to get off the mark.
When the All Blacks omitted Owen Franks from their Rugby World Cup (RWC) squad they effectively called time on a career that spanned 108 Tests‚ but curiously with no try.
So Malherbe has reason to be relieved.
“I couldn’t believe it actually‚ to be honest.
"I thought the ref was blowing for a penalty because he was two metres behind me.
"But yes‚ it was nice. I don’t know really what to say because it’s not my job. But it was a nice experience‚” Malherbe said.
Malherbe is in the throes of a season that is gaining momentum.
His‚ as well the Stormers’ Super Rugby campaign failed to reach dizzy heights but Malherbe has a habit of slipping on the Green and Gold jersey and finding form.
“I feel a bit happier with my game now‚ if I can say that. It’s good progress‚” he said.
“And as I said about the back five and the whole pack‚ it’s really about the guys next to you giving you confidence.
“You can’t get confidence. Sometimes you are scrumming well individually‚ but you are not scrumming well together.
“That doesn’t mean anything‚ because we want to get a result. If you work together‚ and the guys next to you put in the effort and help‚ you get to look better as an individual.”
Malherbe doesn’t have any trade secrets about what makes a good scrum but he was quick to underline the basics.
“It’s about a buy-in from all eight forwards‚ especially the back-five – the locks and the loose-forwards.
"Props always get a lot of praise for a good scrum‚ but it’s actually them [the back-five] – you get eight guys scrumming as hard as they can together.
“It’s a very simple way of thinking about it‚ but it makes a lot of sense. They really need to get a lot of credit for that.”
Still‚ however‚ it remains a murky world. Sometimes the referees’ decisions at scrum time seems like guesswork but Malherbe has a bit more faith in the officials.
“It’s a skill but‚ on the other hand‚ refs referee what they see‚” said Malherbe. “It’s our job in the scrum to present them with a good‚ honest picture.
“If calls don’t go your way‚ which you might think should’ve‚ you are still putting pressure on‚ and creating good pictures.
“Maybe the result or the reward will come later. If you think about scrumming in general‚ that’s always sort of the mindset.
“You will never go into a match and get the reward from the first scrum. It’s normally later‚ the 50th‚ 60th minute on. Maybe even the 75th minute‚ where the reward will come.”
With next Sunday’s quarterfinal against the winner of pool A looming large‚ Malherbe played down talk of the Boks having to make a mental switch this week.
“I don’t think it has been an overall topic or has been discussed in length. But everybody knows what we are in for.
“In terms of whether the break is a good or a bad thing‚ it is an uncontrollable [thing] – you don’t have control over that.
“We know the quarterfinal is a knockout. After the New Zealand game‚ every game has been a knockout for us. If we lost another game‚ we would’ve been out.
“So everyone is mentally mature in that aspect. Everybody knows what’s coming and you can’t prepare for someone specific yet.”