JP: I was born to play rugby

Sharks and Baby Boks flyer JP Pietersen, who arrived back from France this morning, chats to keo.co.za.

Q: You have been linked to the senior Bok squad to be announced later this week for the Vodacom Tri-Nations. How are you feeling about that?

A: This is the first I have heard of it so it is a shock for me. My dream was and has always been to play for the Sharks so I was thrilled when I got my first cap to play for them in last year’s Currie Cup. This year I had the privilege of playing for the Sharks in their Super 14 campaign. Like all young South African players my ultimate goal is to be selected to play for my country, to be chosen to play for the Springboks and I am prepared to put in the hard work to get there. I would consider it a great honour to be chosen to play in the green and gold.

Q: Was it disappointing to relinquish the title to France on Sunday?

A: It was disappointing, we had our chances but things didn’t go according to plan and small mistakes we made all added up. We woke up a bit late in the match to try and amend our plan. The French crowd was against us too; playing in front of a home crowd would have been a definite advantage for any team.

Q: It’s been an amazing year for you. Describe it in your own words.

A: 2006 has been a good year for me although last year was probably, by comparison, better. I’ve had my ups and down this year due to injuries – hamstring and ankle – that kept me out of the Super 14 for five weeks. Last year I had an injury-free year. I have however had many highlights this year: playing Super 14, even if it wasn’t the entire season, and being chosen to play for the SA U21 side in the recent IRB World Champs in France. It has also been an amazing personal experience for me to travel and play in New Zealand (Super 14) and in France. I have had the opportunity to compete internationally in the game that I love and have met and made rugby
friends in other parts of the world.

Q: Do you feel you are ready to step up to Test rugby if selected?

A: I work hard and train hard and I like to think that I give 110 per cent every time that I run out onto the park ­ but it¹s not my call. It’s up to the selectors. I hope that my hard work will one day pay off and that I will be considered for Springbok selection.

Q: Who has been your mentor in your rugby career?

A: My uncle, Christie Noble. He’s both my mentor and my unofficial coach.

Q: What drives JP Pietersen?

A: I love rugby. I was born to play rugby. My earliest memory of a Christmas present was a rugby ball. At family get togethers we always played – and still do – touch rugby. These games always include my cousin and best friend Dusty Noble. Rugby is in my blood… I can honestly say that I can’t imagine my life without rugby.

By Andrew Hollely