After all, the inside centre had the big boots of captain Burger Odendaal to fill and had limited opportunities at his former team the Sharks. Few thought that he would be able to match the strength and physicality of then-Wasps-bound Odendaal but now, in many respects, Louw has eclipsed those expectations.
Indeed, Louw has crash-balled his way into the consciousness of Lions fans with courageous displays, ploughing his way into opposition teams with gleeful abandon. He has put in some powerful running performances, never shying away from the contact point, and never being afraid of the crash! boom! bang! of the midfield.
Sure, he has made a few mistakes in those moments, but there can be no doubt regarding his commitment when a big shoulder is required in those plays.
Earlier this week, Louw was one of the 20 players who recommitted to the Lions Rugby Company until the end of the 2025 season, along with Sanele Nohamba – whose name was omitted during the initial announcement – Asenathi Ntlabakanye, Edwill van der Merwe, Quan Horn, Rabz Maxwane, Reinhard Nothnagel, PJ Botha, Ruan Venter, Morne Brandon, Renzo du Plessis, Francke Horn, Morgan Naude, Morne van den Berg, Raynard Roets, Ruan Delport, Ruben Schoeman, Ruhan Straeuli, Rhynardt Rijnsburger and Manuel Rass.
The re-signing of some key players, including Louw, is a major positive for the team, especially when considering the difficulties the union has previously had holding on to their players. Speaking exclusively to IOL Sport earlier this week, Louw revealed why he chose to remain in Johannesburg – it is a matter of belief.
Said Louw: “Some guys have spent two years in the system already.
“They have learnt the ins and outs of the United Rugby Championship (URC). Age wise there are a lot of youngsters in the team.
“There is big, big potential and we have already showcased what we can do and the growth in the team. For me, as an older guy – especially in the backline – I can see the potential that there is, and I am hoping to contribute towards that as much as possible.
“Truly, that is why I re-signed – just based on the management of the union, the players that are available and the input from every person at the union.”
As one of the senior members of the group, Louw has made the step up in more ways than one, including taking on the mantle of responsibility left vacant by Odendaal, Jaco Kriel and the injured Reinhard Nothnagel. The captaincy seems to be sitting comfortably on his brow and has arguably reinforced his belief in the team and its systems.
“Yes,” said Louw, “I pride myself on being a leader in most teams that I have played, not just in terms of the captaincy or anything like that, but more in the way that I go about my day.
“Having some responsibility has helped me improve my game and humanity. I am truly enjoying it.
“I get a lot of backing from the coaches and the players. We are a team of a lot of leaders, and we have had a few guys missing out due to injuries.
“Notties, he was the captain, has been unlucky with a few injuries, and this season as well ... It is a * privilege for me to be the one to have the armband but for me it is just about the team being as prepared as possible every week.”
The Lions face the lowly Dragons on tomorrow in the URC. They are coming off a dominant victory over Zebre and will be looking to emulate that performance not only this weekend, but in the coming months and the EPCR Challenge Cup, too.
“It is consistency and to achieve that it is about small margins,” Louw said of building a winning culture.
“It’s about when you are defending, making one-on-one tackles, or beating your man on attack, collecting the points when necessary, coming back when you are down in a game to test your character and get a win, and to close out a game when you are in front ...
“For us now, it is not about learning, it is about executing and that is where we are getting better – executing. If we can execute the small margins, those small margins will become big things for us,” he concluded.
15 Quan Horn, 14 Richard Kriel, 13 Henco van Wyk, 12 Marius Louw (capt), 11 Edwill van der Merwe, 10 Sanele Nohamba, 9 Morne van den Berg, 8 Francke Horn, 7 Ruan Venter, 6 Emmanuel Tshituka, 5 Ruben Schoeman, 4 Ruan Delport, 3 Asenathi Ntlabakanye, 2 PJ Botha, 1 JP Smith.
Replacements: 16 Jaco Visagie, 17 Corne Fourie, 18 Ruan Smith, 19 Willem Alberts, 20 Hanru Sirgel, 21 JC Pretorius, 22 Jordan Hendrikse, 23 Rabz Maxwane.