Scarra Ntubeni is one of those players who never lets the side down when called upon to play for the Stormers.
He was second-choice hooker for the Cape franchise at the start of the Super Rugby competition, but after the injury to Springbok Bongi Mbonambi in the opening match against the Hurricanes at Newlands two weekends back, he is the man head coach John Dobson has called on to help out in the engine room.
And once again Ntubeni did a great job last Saturday against the Bulls, scoring one of the two tries that helped seal a 13-0 home victory over their rivals, who are yet to win a match this campaign after going down to the Sharks the previous weekend.
The East London-born Ntubeni, 27, who went to King Edward VII High School, delivered a man-of-the-match performance against the old enemy and looks set to be in the run-on side for Saturday’s match away to the Lions, who got their first win under the belt by beating the Reds 27-20 at home.
Ntubeni is thriving in the No 2 jersey but says he has to take ownership of the position while Mbonambi is away.
“Usually I have him around to bounce ideas off or push me, or things like that. But I think now from my position a lot of the stuff has to come from me. I can’t wait for him [Mbonambi] to push me, I need to do the extra work myself, and I need to be more of a leader,” Ntubeni said.
“Things are a bit different but I’m enjoying the game time. I’ve had a lot of time off the bench and I think I’m fine, I can go now, I’m past the injuries, I’m feeling good, so I’m excited.”
Ntubeni got to play an hour in the preseason friendly against the Sharks at the Marvel weekend on the highveld and remembers his coach telling him afterwards that he looked like a black blob of lava.
But he says he is far fitter now than he was three weeks ago and does not foresee a problem of returning to altitude for the bout with the Lions.
“We might slow the game down as it goes. We definitely don’t want to have another 28 scrums that we did this weekend. We will try to keep the ball in the forwards, especially as the game goes on. They [Lions] will try to speed it up playing up there, so we will definitely try to slow it down.”