Jon Cardinelli provides the inside track on the hard-hitting back-rower

Who is Marco van Staden: Ten things you should know about the Springboks back-row 

Hard-hitting back-row Marco van Staden, who made his South Africa debut in 2018, announced in March 2021 that he would be swapping Bulls for (Leicester) Tigers.

Here are a few more facts and stats about him.

Ten things you should know about Marco van Staden 

1. Marco van Staden was born on 25 August 1995.

2. Van Staden attended Bekker, the little-known agricultural school in the Magaliesberg mountain range.

He played scrum-half for most of his formative years before making a more permanent switch to the back row. What hasn’t changed, however, is his penchant for big defensive hits.

3. After school, van Staden moved to the South African capital to study at the University of Pretoria. He got his big chance with Tuks in the 2016 Varsity Cup, and helped the side win the title in 2017.

4. Van Staden made his senior debut for the Blue Bulls in 2017.

At 6ft (1.84m) and 16st 9lb (106kg), he was never the biggest man on the park. His ability to make big tackles and force important breakdown turnovers, however, set him apart.

5. In 2018, van Staden was called up to the Springboks squad after producing a string of powerful performances for the Bulls. He made his Test debut against Argentina at Kings Park, and featured against the Wallabies later in the Rugby Championship campaign.

6. Eskom, the largest producer of electricity in South Africa, has made headlines for all the wrong reasons in recent years, as much of the country has been subjected to rolling blackouts.

On the upside, the utility company has provided Bulls players with some inspiration regarding a perfectly apt nickname for their tough-tackling team-mate. Those in the know will tell you that when Eskom van Staden lines up an opponent, he tends to tackle their lights out.

7. Van Staden was in the running for a place in the Boks’ 2019 Rugby World Cup squad. He played in the final game before the team’s departure for the tournament in Japan – against Argentina in Pretoria – but narrowly missed out on selection.

He was included in the Springboks squad for the British & Irish Lions 2021 series, though.

8. After the 2019 World Cup, Warren Gatland selected van Staden to start for the Barbarians against Wales. The openside flanker got stuck in at the breakdown, but was later shown a yellow card for cynical play.

9. Jake White made a number of significant changes to the structures and personnel when he was appointed as Bulls director of rugby in early 2020.

Van Staden was retained – albeit for a limited time – and starred for a Bulls side that went on to claim the Super Rugby Unlocked and Currie Cup titles in the space of a few months.

10. In March this year, Leicester Tigers confirmed that van Staden would join their ranks for the 2021-22 season.

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