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    SP Marais finds a 'home' in the Cape

    2017-02-28 15:15

    Lloyd Burnard - Sport24

    Cape Town - He has travelled around the country unsure of where his next pay cheque would come from at times, but SP Marais finally seems to have found a home in Cape Town. 

    His contract with the Stormers is only for the year, but that is more security than he has enjoyed in a while. 

    Cape Town is, after all, home for Marais, who attended Paarl Boys High. 

    His future in rugby would develop outside of the Western Cape, though, where stints at the Kings and then the Sharks propelled him into what looked a promising career. 

    But a return to the Kings ended in tears in 2015, and in 2016 Marais was forced to get out of what proved to be a nightmare deal with the Port Elizabeth-based franchise. 

    Sport24 spoke to Marais at the time when he revealed all by calling that experience with the Kings the "lowest and darkest point of my career". 

    At that stage, Marais was without an income and was seriously considering retirement. 

    A three-month stint at the Bulls followed, but that was not extended following last year's Super Rugby tournament. 

    Marais, again, was without a home. 

    But a conversation with Gert Smal towards the end of last year changed all that, and the Stormers director of rugby was interested in bringing the 27-year-old to Cape Town. 

    After a lengthy spell of uncertainty, Marais was given some kind of security.

    "I’ve been around the block, obviously. It’s not by choice," he said from the Stormers' Bellville training base on Monday.

    "It's been forced due to decisions out of my hands.

    "I’ve been going to Newlands since I was four years old with my dad so it’s a very special place with special memories. It was a massive honour and privilege to make my debut for the Stormers here ... like a dream come true.

    "I’ve always had a dream to play for the Stormers because I grew up here. I had to take the long route ... I had to play at places that gave me the opportunity. Making the full circle and coming back here is special for me and I’m just happy to have the opportunity."

    Marais went straight into the Stormers starting line-up for their season opener against the Bulls on Saturday. They were excellent on attack, specifically in the first half, and ran out 37-24 winners with Marais influential throughout and scoring the first of five tries for the hosts. 

    "People tend to say that I kick the ball the whole time but they forget that I’m under instructions from a coach and if you don’t do what a coach tells you to do then you don’t get to play," Marais explained.

    "I’m just happy to be at a place where I get told to do something which suits me perfectly which is more to play what you see and attack the space."

    He says the lessons learnt over the past two years have made him the man he is today, on and off the field. 

    "I wanted to move back to PE, more for reasons outside of rugby," he said.

    "Last year was possibly one of the toughest years. I went from moving from Durban to PE and staying there for two months, moving back to Durban for seven weeks, then had to move to Pretoria for 12 weeks then back to PE for another two months and then to Cape Town.

    "I’ve moved quite a lot because of things out of my control so I’m just happy to have the opportunity and to be here. If I play, I play and if I don’t play then I don’t play. I’m just happy to have the opportunity and I think I’ve learned a lot of rough lessons. I’m just thankful and appreciative of being at the Stormers."

    Marais should still have a number of years in the tank at the highest level. 

    2017 could be his year to make sure that happens. 

    The Stormers are next in action when they take on the Jaguares at Newlands on Saturday. Kick-off is at 17:15.

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