One of the definitions for enforcer is that it refers to a person who imposes his will through intimidation. In South African rugby Eben Etzebeth is considered as a classic example of someone who is used to having things his way on the field.
This is something the 20-year-old Aston Fortuin who plays lock for FNB UP-Tuks in the Varsity Cup, admires. He admits that it might take him another year or two before he has the same sort of physical presence on the field.
On Monday night against the University of Johannesburg, Fortuin wore the number five jersey, yet he longs to play in the number four jersey.
“Some people think when you are a lock it does not matter whether you play in the number four or five jersey. As far as they are concerned it is the same thing. But they are wrong. There is big difference in how I would approach the game wearing a four or five at the back of my jersey. The number five lock is the line-out ‘general’ who makes the calls while number four is the enforcer on the field. It is the guy who does the donkey work and who is not scared to put his body on the line if it will benefit the team. I can be both but if I had a choice I would want to play number four.”
Fortuin does not really consider himself to be overly aggressive on the field but hinted that there are times during a rugby game when a player might need to resort to some measures for a moment or two just to get the opposition to rethink the way they go about doing things.
It has been said that Fortuin’s ball handling skills are not too shabby for a lock. He can catch the ball, sidestep the opposition and create space on attack.
“I have to thank my primary school coaches at Barkley East as they made me play in the backline and that is where I learned my ball handling skills.”
During training sessions Fortuin is not afraid to push himself to the limit. “Rugby is a busy game,” he says, “You have to be fitter and stronger than your opponent.”
But rugby is more than just a game that needs to be won. “It’s a camaraderie sport. Rugby is where you build a band of brothers and create everlasting friendships.”
Fortuin made his debut for FNB UP-Tuks in the Varsity Cup match against FNB Pukke. The one game that definitely stood out for him was when FNB UP-Tuks managed to beat UJ 42-8.
Like most young rugby players, Fortuin has set a goal to play Super Rugby and hopefully play for the Springboks in the foreseeable future. However, he is also realistic and understands that there are no certainties, especially in rugby. There is always a possibility of the next game being the last, that is why he is quite serious about his studies. He is a third year BComm Economics student at the University of Pretoria.
By Wilhelm de Swart