“Stand for something or fall for anything”
-Photo Credit- Gareth Morgan
His decision to retire from pro Rugby and the process behind it . . .
"I think many of us would love to continue playing this game forever but unfortunately at times it's mentally not possible or physically not possible. For me, it was a decision that I had been thinking about for the last two or so years in terms of when to go out, can the time come for me to go out on my own terms? Unfortunately I wasn't able to do that which was a little disappointing, but that doesn't take away from the last sixteen years. I think it's really difficult to fully prepare for that decision and for what is to come after that. There are so many things that one has to put into perspective and so I think having a good support system around you, people that you can lean on for advice, is important."
Where racing a Cheetah and a jet plane rank in his career memories . . .
"Wow, there were some totally radical things that, when I started out my career, would never have imagined doing in my wildest dreams. Both were very different, the race against the Cheetah in 2007 was purely to create awareness on the plight of the Cheetah as it's leaning towards becoming an extinct animal. Then the race against the Airbus A380 was literally just to promote the new route from London to Johannesburg so they were two very different things but that's the joy of professional sport, it does provide you with those things."
Being remembered for his pace and what the secret is . . .
"I'm pretty fortunate that it was part of my natural makeup and yes I worked on it but I don't have the scientific knowledge from an education point of view to be able to pass that on. If you look at someone like a Wayde Van Niekerk or Usain Bolt who are pure athletes that constantly do sprint training, there might be some some knowledge that can be imparted. If there is an opportunity then I'd love to give advice but I'll be open to the person that I'm giving it to and say that it might not work for them, what worked for me possibly didn't work for a player like Chris Ashton."
The significance of this Springboks team moving forward under Captain Siya Kolisi . . .
"First and foremost, I definitely don't think that it's a political appointment. I really do believe that Siya is deserving of it and I think it's been an absolutely inspirational moment that has been achieved. So to say how important it is at this present time is difficult, because I only think we will release when we reflect back on how important this moment was for South African rugby and for our country. He's a good friend and chatting to him, I know how much this means."
Why alongside his Rugby, his faith in Jesus holds such importance in his life . . .
"For me, growing up in South Africa, Christianity is a more common factor. Within the Rugby team you will see guys praying before games or praying after, so it's instilled in our culture. From a young age I believed that I've been given this opportunity and been blessed with talent to do something that I really love. To be able to use that to first of all, stay humble, in where you are as a person and be able to ground yourself in something. One of the sayings of 'stand for something or fall for anything' is something that I've been able to reflect on over my Rugby career and I know that when I am centred I can outwardly make a difference and be a light in the world. As great as it is to be able to play Rugby, there is much more to life. My faith gives me something to fall back on, in the good times and the bad."
The challenge of following Jesus in the Rugby environment . . .
"It has been testing because of the culture, do you go with the flow? I'm not going to stand here and say that I've been a worthy candidate, I've also fallen short at times and needed to be brought back on the straight and narrow. I think along your Christian walk that is something that allows you to understand that there is a greater meaning to life and yes It's great to be playing Rugby but there's more to life. If you fall down or even have your head above the clouds, for me it's about having that foundation that you can come back to."
What ' there's more to life than Rugby' looks like now for him . . .
"To be brutally honest I think initially I'm definitely going to be taking some time off and spending it with the family, have some time to reflect on what has been in the last fifteen years and just put some wise decisions into place. There's a bit of nervousness as there always is when you are going into a new chapter but in saying that there is also quite a bit of excitement which I'm looking forward to."