Ungerer wants to make No 9 jersey his very own
● Strong runner could be catalyst for Kings’ revival
After scoring two tries on his Guinness PRO14 debut, robust scrumhalf Stefan Ungerer aims to make the Isuzu Southern Kings No 9 jersey his own this season.
Ungerer, who arrived from the Pumas in October, delivered a strong showing despite the Kings going down 38-31 to European champions Leinster at the Madibaz Stadium on Sunday.
“I will take the tries when they come and luckily the ball bounced in my direction,” Ungerer said.
“Now I am looking to make that starting berth mine as much as possible. I arrived in Port Elizabeth last Friday and watched the Kings match against the Scarlets.
“I joined in training on Monday and I remembered some of my calls from last time when I played for the Kings in Super Rugby. My teammates also did a lot to help me settle in.
“I was excited to play after a two-week break after representing the Pumas in the Currie Cup.
So I was looking forward to getting back on the field for my first PRO14 game against northern hemisphere opponents.
“I felt the game was physical and flyhalf Martin du Toit and loose forward Ruaan Lerm made me feel at home on my PRO14 debut.”
Ungerer feels PRO14 is a bit more physical than the Currie Cup.
“With the strong wind we had for the game, there were lots of stoppages, but when play got going it was relatively quick. I would say it is a bit more physical than Currie Cup.
“In the first half the wind was terrible. As we turned for the second half, it felt like it died down slightly.
“It was tough playing into it. We adapted well in some situations and in others we could have done better.
“I was grateful to get this chance to start. I had been hoping to be in the mix and I was a bit surprised to start. I enjoyed it a lot.
“I don’t think I was in the best of shape when I came here last time from the Sharks and I also had an injury when I arrived.
“I needed some rehabilitation at that time and Louis Schreuder was playing good rugby at scrumhalf.
“So it was difficult to get into the mix. Now I want to get to know the Kings game plan to a T. As a No 9 you are always going to be in the action, and I want to get to know my role better.
“I want to give the guys at the back some good quick ball. As South Africans playing in Europe, we must bring something different. We might not always have the biggest pack so we have to have another edge.
“We must look to pick up the pace of the game.
“I enjoyed my time at the Pumas with coach Brent Janse van Rensburg.
“I built my confidence as player there. I played a lot, which is great for a No 9 where you want to be in the game situation all the time.”
Kings coach Deon Davids showed his confidence in Ungerer by throwing him in at the deep end only days after he arrived from Nelspruit.
“I have a lot of confidence in Stefan,” Davids said.
“I think his basic play is good. On top of that he has a good pass and kicking game.
“Coupled with that he has a good feel for the game.
“In our last match against Leinster, Stefan asked a few questions at the breakdown.
“His defence is also good, so it is great that Stefan is back in Port Elizabeth. With experienced Sarel Pretorius also expected to be back in the next few weeks, we should have good depth at scrumhalf.”
If Ungerer can continue with the form he showed against the Leinster side, the strong-running No 9 could be the catalyst in a Kings revival during the second half of the season.
BACK WITH A BANG: Isuzu Southern Kings scrumhalf Stefan Ungerer throws out a pass during his debut against Guinness PRO14 champions Leinster