Cape Town - A few years ago
Berton Klaasen had given up the dream of playing professional rugby when, at
the age of 23, he retired from the game.
six years, and the workhorse centre is set to make his 50th appearance for the Kings this weekend when they take on the Dragons in a PRO14 clash.
he takes to the field at the Nelson Mandela University’s Madibaz Stadium on
Sunday, will become only the second player after stalwart prop, Schalk
Ferreira, to have played half a century of matches for the Kings.
The native of
Grabouw in the Western Cape has played a total of 34 PRO14 matches, in
addition to 15 Super Rugby appearances for the Port Elizabeth-based franchise.
"When I look
back at my career and where I come from, I can’t help but feel emotional about
it. It has been quite a journey, and I am proud that I have managed to reach
this stage where I can join a list only a few have achieved – playing 50
matches for my team," Klaasen said about his milestone.
having had the opportunity to play rugby at school due to his school not
offering any sports, he was forced, at a young age to play club rugby in the
farm region of Grabouw against men much older than him.
After a stint
at Western Province and Stormers from 2011, Klaasen hung up his boots in 2013
following the death of his mother. He never thought he would play professional
"I did not have
it easy," Klaasen reflected.
"Firstly, I did
not have the development that most professional players have these days. I
played no schools rugby, but played in a farm league. Then when I was starting
off after getting an opportunity with the Stormers, my personal life took a big
knock when my mom passed away and I was forced to retire from the game.
"I got an
opportunity to come to PE to play Currie Cup for Eastern Province in 2016 and
the following year Coach Deon Davids gave me an opportunity of a lifetime when
he included me in the Kings' Super Rugby team.
"All I wanted
back then was to play 20 games and I would have been satisfied. Here I am now
playing my 50th. I could not be prouder of having come this far."
suffered another scare ahead of the Kings’ PRO14 debut
season in 2017/18 when he was diagnosed with a heart condition that could have
seen him being forced to once again retire from the game he loves.
"That was a
challenging time for me. I had just tasted professional rugby again, and I was
told that I may have to call it a day," he remembered.
after numerous tests were done I was given a lifeline and was able to continue playing.
me that one may have the talent, but the opportunity to play at this level
could be taken at any moment. That thought is what has kept me going and
continues to motivate me to do my best and to enjoy every moment."
share his milestone with that of teammate, Dries van Schalkwyk, who will be
playing in his 100th PRO14 match on Sunday.
"I have been
fortunate to share the field and dressing room with players of Dries’ calibre.
It is such a special occasion to be able to share the moment with a stalwart
like him. He is a formidable player and individual. I wish him all the best," said Klaasen.