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'Petulent' Springbok hopeful pilloried for 'trying to be a hard man'

By Kim Ekin
Evan Roos rubs Harry Byrnes face into the turf Credit: RTE/URC

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Aspiring Springbok Evan Roos has been branded as ‘looking like a turkey’ after he instigated an off-the-ball incident in the United Rugby Championship over the weekend.

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In a thrilling match in Cape Town on Saturday, the DHL Stormers overcame a 6-3 halftime deficit to win 20-13 against table topping Leinster, completing a full house of wins for the South African teams in the penultimate round of league competition.

The first half was tense as both teams tried to establish dominance but were unable to cross the try line – although the Stormers came close in the opening seconds – but the hosts will rue a number of lost opportunities in the second half, with a four-try bonus-point eluding them in the end.

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One 62nd minute incident saw Stormers No.8 Evan Roos tackle Leinster flyhalf Harry Byrne, as the 23-year-old looked to clear his side’s lines from within the in-goal real.

Roos legally dump tackled Byrne but things turned ugly when the loose forward went to rub Byrne’s face into the ground following the tackle.

“He could be in big trouble here,” observed British & Lions legend Donal Lenihan, who was on commentary duties for RTE. “You can’t do that. He’s looking at a yellow minimum. He drives his head into the ground with his hand.

“Harry Byrne does well to clear out but it’s afterward that there, having made the tackle… just petulent really.

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Matchday referee Craig Evans didn’t see it that way and Roos got away with just a penalty against him.

Former Leinster and Ireland centre blasted Roos on Twitter, writing: “Evan Roos trying to be a hard man, without doing anything hard. Instead just ends up looking like a turkey.”

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Karl Brophy wrote: Some evidence today as to why Rassie Erasmus has chosen not to call up Evan Roos just yet. Great talent but questionable temperament. He’ll learn.”

Indeed all the recent headlines centering on Roos had been around his shock exclusion from Jacques Nienaber’s first Springboks alignment camps, although it’s not clear if the 22-year-old has been involved in the second camp, which kicked off in Cape Town yesterday.

Nienaber has previously indicated that he is happy with his current crop of back rows, nearly all of whom were involved in the 2019 Rugby World Cup victory.

The real litmus Test is whether or not Roos will be involved as South Africa hosts Wales in a three Test series this July. If he isn’t involved, it will give Nienaber precious little time to blood the rampaging youngster ahead of next year’s Rugby World Cup in France.

His case is certainly not furthered by this type of incident.

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