Durban - When flank Jean Deysel left the Cell C Sharks last year in an emotional farewell, heading for a new chapter in his life to be written in Japan, little did we know he’d be back to the place he calls ‘home’.
Deysel arrived at the Sharks in 2007 with little reputation, but soon developed into a force to be reckoned with.
Seven years later he departed for Japan, but when the call came to return to Durban, there was no hesitation.
“I’m very happy to be back,” he told Sharks website editor Michael Marnewick. “When Gary Gold spoke to me about three weeks ago about a return, it was an easy decision to make. It’s great to come back to Durban, to see the players again and it’s a great union to play for. So it was an easy decision once Gary offered me the opportunity.”
The old saying: You can take the ‘boytjie’ out of South Africa but you can’t take South Africa out the ‘boytjie’ rings true here, and Deysel’s heart well and truly belonged in the land of his birth.
“I missed the braais to be honest,” he admitted. “Being in Japan was a great experience and a real learning curve. Toyota is a great club and they are so eager to learn and develop their rugby, not just in general but as a culture. For me to go there and see that was awesome, but this is home and it’s where all my friends and family are. There were a lot of things I missed and it’s really good to be back.”
He played off the bench in last weekend’s 35-29 loss to the Cheetahs and made an immediate impact, but admits that the butterflies were there.
“I can’t remember when I’ve been that nervous before a game; maybe eight years ago when I played my first game, but I think I was even more nervous this time around. I must take my hat off to the guys and the coaching staff, they made it so much easier to fit in and get into the game plan. Everyone had a massive impact during the week, so it was much easier for me to fit back in because everyone helped so much.”
He explained that the sheer physicality of the game, to match his own, is part of the reason for his return.
“I played just 30 minutes on Saturday and I battled to get out of the car on Sunday, whereas when I played in Japan, Sunday’s were good. It’s a lot more physical, you do miss that and the heavy competitiveness of it.
“And it actually feels good to get up on a Sunday and really feel like it was a tough game the day before.”
The Sharks host the Lions at Kings Park on Saturday (19:10 kick-off).