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FNB UFS Shimlas gun for top spot

FNB Varsity Cup

Centre Jooste Nel reflects on the big win against the defending champions, his journey with FNB UFS Shimlas, and the quest to secure top spot in the standings.

Where did your love for the game develop? I grew up with two brothers and a dad who loved rugby, so the passion for rugby was always there.

Where did your rugby journey start? I played my first provincial tournaments for the Blue Bulls at U12 level. But the journey really started when I played in the Academy Week in Grade 11.

How did you find yourself playing at the FNB UFS Shimlas? I signed a junior contract with the Cheetahs last year and that got me to Bloemfontein. I decided to give myself a chance and that’s how it happened.

You're quite a big guy for a centre. Have you ever envisioned yourself playing different positions, such as in the loose forwards or at hooker? I've never envisioned myself playing any other position. That said, I get a few comments from the coaches and players saying I must be at the forwards meetings. Then we always have a chuckle.

Apart from being a big ball-carrier in the midfield, what would you say your other strengths are as a player? I'd like to think I have quite good feet and I'm also working hard on my decision-making on the field.

You made quite a splash with that opening try against FNB UP-Tuks last Monday. Did you aim for that puddle behind the goalposts? I didn't, but looking at the results afterwards, it made a few nice photos, so I'm happy with how it turned out.

How big was Monday night's win against the defending champions, which was also a first for FNB UFS Shimlas in six years? Our team prides itself on always giving its best. That result gives us confidence going into the last stretch of the Varsity Cup.

A bonus-point win against the FNB Madibaz on Monday will book a home semi-final. How much of a goal is that after securing a spot in the playoffs this past week? We all know how big of an advantage a home game can be, especially a semi-final. Winning next Monday is the next goal in sight.

When you aren't playing rugby or studying, what do you get up to? I like being outdoors, going on hikes, watching sunsets and spending time with people I love.

Interview by Morgan Piek

Photo: Christiaan Kotze/ASEM Engage

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