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Shimlas super-sub: It's my job to speed up the game

FNB Varsity Cup

Jandré 'Smiley' Nel reflects on his try-scoring exploits for FNB UFS Shimlas, his role from the bench and comparisons to former Springbok scrumhalf Werner Swanepoel

Where did your rugby journey start? I started to play 'Bulletjie' rugby in Grade 1. I loved to score tries and make new friends. Rugby was always in my blood, and I knew that I wanted to play professional rugby one day.

Who was your biggest influence at Grey College? My friends. We believed and motivated each other. We had some great coaches and they encouraged us to enjoy the game and we were driven to win.

Where does the nickname 'Smiley' come from? In Grade 8, my friends started to call me 'Smiley' because I was always laughing and enjoying life.

There was another famous Grey College and FNB UFS Shimlas scrumhalf who went by the nickname of 'Smiley'. Werner Swanepoel went on to become 47th Springbok produced by Shimlas. Is he someone you look up to? I’ve never seen him play, but I've heard that he was an excellent scrumhalf. I hope that I can follow in his footsteps.

Who do you think is the most colourful character in the squad? Scrumhalf Chadd Adams is a funny person and puts a smile on everyone's face. Flyhalf George Lourens and inside centre Janco van Heyningen are also characters in their own right. They always make everyone feel positive and give good advice on the field. The brotherhood in the team is fantastic and everyone contributes to the positive vibes to ensure that we work hard and enjoy the game.

You have become something of a super-sub at FNB UFS Shimlas this season. Is that a role you are happy to fulfil? I always want to make the game quicker and help the team where I can. Shimlas give me the freedom to express myself and I love every moment on the field with the team. The coaches always encourage me to play my game in our systems and I have enjoyed my rugby a lot this year.

FNB UFS Shimlas have had a couple of tough games this season. Which one stands out and why? Last week's game against FNB UJ was very tough because it was a must-win game for both teams, who are looking to finish in the top four. They made it hard for us in all aspects of the game. We as a team showed guts and played for each other to get the win.

You're playing FNB UP-Tuks at home next Monday, and in many ways, that is also a must-win game. How is the confidence in the camp and what is the most important area to focus on? The mood in the camp is very positive and we know that it is going to be a very important game in terms of securing a spot in the playoffs. We must just take it game-by-game to improve our systems and lift the intensity of our team.

Interview by Morgan Piek

Photo: Catherine Kotze/Asem Engage


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