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FNB UFS Shimlas playmaker: I was born with a ball in my hands

FNB Varsity Cup

Flyhalf George Lourens reflects on the attacking mindset of FNB UFS Shimlas, the potency of his backline and the big win against the FNB UCT Ikeys.

Who's had the biggest influence on your career? I have been blessed with lots of brilliant coaches and role models throughout the years, but most recently it has been Coach Mijaggi [Ian Campbell-McGeachy], who was my sevens coach at Maties. He has always put in the effort with me – on and off the field. He has always backed me and believed in me even when others didn’t. He still helps me to this day.

Where did the journey start for you as a player? I was born with a ball in my hands and have been playing rugby for as long as I can remember. My parents won’t like me saying this, but as a schoolboy, I definitely spent more hours on the rugby field than with my books.

You played for Paarl Gimnasium and then FNB Maties. How did the move to FNB UFS Shimlas come about? Growing up in Paarl, the obvious choice after school was to join Maties. I loved every second at Stellenbosch, but after I got my degree last year, I felt the need for change. I could tell there was something happening at Shimlas with all the changes being made, and late in the year, coach André Tredoux phoned me and offered me the opportunity to come see what Bloemfontein is all about. I haven’t looked back since.

What's the difference between playing for FNB UFS Shimlas and FNB Maties? I can only speak for the 2022 season – I don’t know what Maties have this year. What I can say is there is an unbelievable vibe in the Shimlas camp. The players are all on the same page and play for each other. The biggest difference I would say is the freedom that the coaches give us to play and to express ourselves.

What's the biggest difference between the cultures? The whole of the Free State loves to watch and play running rugby. I haven’t played in a team where I’ve seen so many smiles on the field.

As a flyhalf, how much confidence do you take from a scrumhalf and a pair of centres that do their job so well? The confidence I get from them is immense. Both of our scrumhalves have the X factor. They are game breakers. We have centres that make me look slow every day. We connect really well and fill each other’s weaker points nicely.

What makes the FNB UFS Shimlas backline so dangerous this year? It feels like every game someone else puts their hand up. Every player is able to break the line at will. That’s a terrifying thing to defend. That being said, I think any backline would have success with the go-forward ball like we are getting from our forwards at the moment – so credit must go to them.

In the context of the tournament, how big was Tuesday morning's 58-7 win against the FNB UCT Ikeys? Things have heated up at the top of the log. After two losses in a row, that was kind of a must-win game for us. Luckily we were able to play the game [after the match was postponed due to bad weather on Monday night] and get a full house of five log points.

Who is George Lourens when he is not playing rugby? I'm a very social guy who loves spending time with friends. From playing golf to chilling and playing cards, I’m always keen to spend time with the people I love.

Interview by Morgan Piek

Photo: Hannes Naude/ASEM Engage


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