Kimberley - Loosehead prop Steph Roberts has called time on his long career at Griquas as he prepares for life after rugby.
Roberts will leave Kimberley as a living rugby legend.
He’s experienced many highs and lows with Griquas during a chapter that started in 2008. He also spent four years at the Free State Cheetahs after matriculating at Grey College.
During the Currie Cup this season, he broke the Griquas record for most appearances for the Kimberley union in 130 years. The record was previously held by Andre van Wyk, who played for the team between 1984 and 1995.
He also played a leading role to help the team secure four wins from their eight appearances in the Premier Division.
Roberts said it was a sweet end to his time in the Northern Cape.
“I’ve had nine special seasons at Griquas. I probably have a few more good years in me and I’ve wanted to grab more opportunities at higher levels, but I’m satisfied to leave on my own terms. I say goodbye with a smile,” Roberts told MyPlayers.
“When I arrived at Griquas, I didn’t have any specific goals in mind. I just wanted to add value in my position. But when I heard earlier this year that I’m within reach to break the record for most appearances, I realised it was the perfect opportunity to leave behind a legacy.
“Breaking the record is definitely one of the major individual highlights. Winning the games to equal and break the record made it even more special. The beer always tastes sweeter after a victory!”
Roberts added that he expects positive things to come from the current Griquas squad.
“Griquas currently have an exciting and young squad. Several players arrived last year, so we have many new faces to give us a fresh approach,” he explained. “We didn’t make the semi-finals this season, but winning those four games proved that we are good enough to compete and beat some of the best unions in South Africa.
“We have gathered great momentum, which the players can hopefully grow going into the 2017 season. Hopefully, the team can get the necessary reinforcements to continue their progress.”
Looking ahead to his new chapter, Roberts has a few exciting things lined up. As a qualified quantity surveyor, he will look to start his second professional career in the construction industry. The 31-year-old also revealed that coaching has become a new-found passion.
“During my time at Griquas, I dedicated some time to coach an Under-9 team at a local primary school, which was a lot of fun. I really had a good time coaching the boys, who were inspired to spend some time with a professional player,” said Roberts. “For me, it’s very important to inspire the next generation because when I was younger, I was motivated by the players I watched or the players I got to meet. I love giving back to the game.
“I got another opportunity after a former Griquas team-mate, who was coaching at Diamantveld High School, asked me for some insights when it came to training the forwards. He was impressed with my advice and asked me to help coach the team. I agreed and coached them for a few years. That was a great experience as the school picked up some impressive results.
“I’d definitely want to explore a few more coaching opportunities in the near future, which could lead to more exciting opportunities in rugby.”
For more exclusive player content, check out MyPlayers.co.za