White factor lured WP prodigy
Durban - Former Western Province junior flyhalf Tim Swiel says the prospect of being coached by Jake White
was key in his decision to join the Sharks, reports Sharks website
editor Michael Marnewick
He attended the famous Cape Town school Bishops College which boasts amongst its old boys Pick 'n Pay’s Raymond Ackerman
, technology whiz Mark Shuttleworth
, rugby players Robbie Fleck and Daniel Vickermann, and SA cricketers Adrian Kuiper and Herschelle Gibbs
Swiel matriculated in 2011 and attended Western Province Academy the following year and played two years for the WP Under-21 side straight out of school. They lost to the Blue Bulls in the 2012 final but then managed to pull it off against the same team this year, winning at Newlands in the Under-21 Final.
“There are a lot of new things happening here and in terms of coaching, Jake White
is the coach and he has a distinguished record, which made the decision to come to the Sharks an easy one,” he explains of his move to KZN.
“To be under his mentorship will be great for my career. The culture here is great, I’ve been welcomed with open arms by all the players.”
His ties to KZN are not a newly-established relationship, but go back into the history of the province. His mother is a Crookes, a name associated with endeavour and achievement for over 150 years in KZN, a family of successful farmers, businessmen and philanthropists who established the GJ Crookes Hospital and Vernon Crookes Nature Reserve, both on the KZN South Coast.
But his focus now is on the training programme. “We started our pre-season training on 18 November and we’ve been at it for almost five weeks now. It’s been tough, long hours, but it’s well-structured and I’ve learned a lot. On the field, on the track or in the gym, it’s been all-round very good for me.”
Commenting on his new environment, he explains: “It is very organised here, we have a programme we stick to and everything is punctual. It’s great here although I still have to get used to the humidity; the Cape Town weather is more constant. The people are very friendly, the culture here is great and even the senior players have been very welcoming.
“I’m training hard, the main goal is to play Super Rugby, but you have to tick the small boxes first. Hopefully if I keep doing everything necessary, keep training hard and if the little things go well, the big things - like selection - will come.”
A player with lightning-quick turn of speed, he just wants to play. “I like playing flyhalf but I am also happy at fullback, I just enjoy playing. I’ll play wherever my coach selects me.”
The Super Rugby challenge is going to be a huge step up for him from provincial age group level, one he is looking forward to.
“It has a big mental component about it,” he says, “I also think the speed of the game, along with the physicality, is greater than what I’ve experienced. But that’s why we have these long pre-season programmes, so that we’re in shape to handle the impact.
“The pre-season is longer than I’ve done before, and intense. The days are longer too, but it’s going well and I’m learning a lot. I’m getting stronger every day.
“I’m looking to benefit from the likes of Jake White
as coach and even John Smit as the CEO, both come with the reputation of a successful Rugby World Cup which is great for the union. I’ve also enjoyed working with Sean Everitt, we do a lot of skills’ and speed work which I enjoy.”