Former Sharks centre Paul Jordaan is part of an exciting La Rochelle outfit, who are the surprise log leaders in the French Top 14 this season.
He spoke to MyPlayers.
MyPlayers: Why the decision to move to France?
I enjoyed five good years at the Sharks. However, I didn’t feel I was getting any recognition from the national selectors, so I decided to look for a fresh challenge overseas. It’s a good time in my career to test myself outside my comfort zone. I had offers from Scotland and Japan, but got a really good deal from La Rochelle. I made the move with my fiancé Natasha.
MyPlayers: How did you settle in?
The club was really good to us. They helped us find a place to stay and sorted us out with other admin stuff, like cellphone contracts. I’ve also connected with fellow South African Ricky Januarie. He and his family have been great to me and my fiancé.
MyPlayers: Any culture shocks?
La Rochelle is a tourist city, so there aren’t too many culture shocks. The language barrier can get difficult but we’re looking forward to learning French. We’re getting better each day. It helps that there are a few Fijians, New Zealanders and Australians in our squad, so there are players who speak English.
MyPlayers: How are you enjoying your rugby?
La Rochelle want to compete in the French Top 14, which is exciting. We’ve proven our worth so far, leading the log after 17 matches, which has surprised everyone. I’m enjoying myself and managed to score a few tries. The coaches want us to play attacking rugby and offload the ball when possible.
MyPlayers: What do you make of the standard of rugby?
Super Rugby is a tougher competition compared to the French Top 14. Although the fans in France are amazing. There’s so much passion. The European competitions are amazing.
MyPlayers: How many familiar faces do you see?
There are so many South Africans in France. It’s like a South African reunion every weekend. Against Castres, I saw guys like Robert Ebersohn and Rory Kockott. Against Grenoble, I saw Gio Aplon and Charl McLeod.
MyPlayers: What exciting plans do you have away from rugby?
My fiancé and I will definitely travel. We want to see other amazing cities and experience the European culture.
MyPlayers: Any advice to players headed to France?
Speak to players who have played here before for more insights and advice. During my final months at the Sharks, I could turn to guys like Joe Pietersen and Michael Claassens, who played many seasons in France. Their advice helped me a lot.
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