Schickerling delighted to make debut

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Patrick Schickerling in action for Exeter Braves against Harlequins earlier this season - Photo

By Mike Smith

Patrick Schickerling insists there is still ‘plenty to play for’ this season despite Exeter Chiefs bowing out of the Premiership Rugby Cup with defeat to Harlequins last Sunday.

Handed his first-team debut as a second half replacement, the young Namibian forward wasn’t able to grace his maiden outing with a victory he and his fellow team-mates would have craved.

Instead, the visiting Londoners had too much in most areas for the youthful Chiefs, who will now need to quickly switch their attentions back to the Gallagher Premiership and Heineken Champions Cup, as well as the Premiership Rugby Shield in which Schickerling has featured prominently this season.

"It was great to be involved,” said the 21-year-old, who is now into his second season with the Chiefs. “We had a young squad out today, all of whom wanted to show their talent and what they're made of. For me, it was great to get my first appearance for the club.

“What I like about the Chiefs is that they always give the younger lads the opportunity. They are not afraid to throw them in at the deep end – and that in turn makes you a better player overall.”

Although injury and the form of others has meant the Walvis Bay-born prop has had to bide his time for his initial crack at first-team life, now he’s tasted life at the top end, Schickerling is hoping to play his part as the season heads into its second half.

"We’re top of the Premiership; we were number one in the pool stages for Europe; plus we got to the semi-final of this competition. It’s been a good season far, but we just need to keep working hard, stick to our systems, and put on a real Chiefs performance every weekend.”

Up against a strong Harlequins outfit, which showed just three changes from that which had trounced defending Premiership champions Saracens the previous week, the Chiefs knew their hopes of advancing into the first Cup Final of the season were always going to be tough.

And so it proved for the Devonians, who although in touch early in the second half, were then blown away by a powerful try-scoring burst from Paul Gustard’s side.

“The end result wasn’t what we wanted, but it was a tough game against a strong Harlequins side,” added Schickerling. “It would have been nice to have capped my first game with a win, but it wasn’t to be in the end.

“For me, though, I’m happy to have played my first game in front of a massive crowd. As I said, I'm frustrated by the result at the end of the day, but it was good to be out there after about four weeks out with my eye injury.”

Schickerling’s campaign was recently curtailed after he picked up a nasty eye injury whilst playing for the Exeter Braves in their Premiership Rugby Shield clash away to Saracens Storm.

Now fully-fit again, the prop hopes to use his 30-minute cameo as the springboard for bigger and better things with the club.

“I'm so glad to be here,” he added. “As props we tend to develop over a longer period of time. Getting put in there at a young age, it does make it easier to get into the big games when the opportunity comes. As a youngster, it all about making the most of your opportunities and it was good to be out there with so many experienced players and learning from them.”

Certainly, Schickerling is not afraid to pick the brains of his peers, including those from closer to his native home.

“"It's been easy to settle in at the club,” he continued. “Having the other Saffa boys here definitely helps and it creates a good vibe. They live around the corner from me, so I can head around there and have a braai, have a good time and learn from them as well as they're so experienced."

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