The NSW Waratahs have bolstered their front row stocks with a mixture of youth and experience, locking in Ruan Smith and Archer Holz for upcoming 2022 Super Rugby Pacific competition, with both players signing one-year deals.
Smith, born and raised in Vryburg South Africa, boasts over eight years of Super Rugby experience after making his Super Rugby debut for the Western Force in 2012, and spending five seasons with the ACT Brumbies, two seasons at the Reds and one season with the Rebels. Smith also has experience abroad after spending time in Japan with stints at Toyota Verblitz.
Smith’s signing with the Waratahs will give him the opportunity to become the first ever player to represent all five Australian Super Rugby sides and will be aligned with the Hunter Wildfires in the Shute Shield.
The veteran prop was excited for the next chapter in his career.
“DC (Darren Coleman) called me and asked if I was interested in playing for the Waratahs and told me I had a lot to offer the group,” Smith said.
“Playing for Waratahs is a massive opportunity, it’s the biggest team in Australia. We’ve got a great young team and even though I bring a lot of experience I think they’ll offer just as much for me as I will for them. Being around these young guys gives you a lot of energy and makes me feel a lot younger than I am.”
Waratahs Head Coach Darren Coleman said “It was no secret that last season we struggled a bit at scrum time, so with the few spots we needed to fill, size, experience and an aggressive nature were key aspects we were looking for and Ruan ticks all those boxes.
“He’s been a Super Rugby player for a long time, he’s big, experienced, aggressive and brings a lot to our dressing room as well.
“Ruan’s a great team man who understands team harmony and chemistry and will be a great mentor to the good battery of tight head props we have.”
21-year-old Archer Holz grew up in Lightning Ridge, a small outback town in north-western NSW, and later attended The Kings school in Paramatta, playing GPS and Australian Barbarians in 2018.
Holz played 1st Grade Colts in 2019 straight out of high school at Eastern Suburbs in the Shute Shield, before making his 1st Grade debut for the club as 20-year-old in 2020 under current Waratahs Forwards coach Pauli Taumoepeau.
Strong showings in the Shute Shield saw the Brumbies offer the promising prop a contract for their 2021 Super Rugby campaign where Holtz made his debut in Round 4 of Super Rugby AU against the Reds.
Holz, a proud New South Welshman, is excited at the prospect of fulfilling a childhood dream of playing for the Waratahs.
“Growing up in country NSW and playing rugby as kid, the Waratahs has always been the team I supported, so I’m really grateful to get the opportunity to hopefully wear the Sky-Blue,” Holtz said.
“Last year watching from the outside it felt like a tough year, but the group looked like they stayed incredibly tight and after speaking to DC (Darren Coleman) and Pauli (Taumoepeau) it sounded like a group that I wanted to be part of.
“I’m really excited about the program the coaches have put together and feel it’s the best place for me to develop as a player.”
Waratahs Assistant Coach Pauli Taumoepeau is looking forward to having another big body to reinforce his front-row stocks.
“What Archer brings naturally is a really big body, and he knows how to use it effectively,” Taumoepeau said
“He’s a beast in the scrum and had a lot of success there for us at Easts and brings a real presence in defence.
“He adds depth to our front-row and provides that crucial next level of competition keeping our other guys on their toes.
“I’m really looking forward to see him develop his skill set here at the Waratahs.”