Future Star: Garth April

After snubbing an amateur contract with Western Province, April is making excellent progress at the Lions.

The 18-year-old has an impressive résumé. After representing Boland at U16 level, he played in two consecutive Craven Weeks for Boland and the Lions respectively, and was picked for SA Schools on both occasions. He was also selected for the SA U18 Elite side in 2008, the SA U18 High Performance programme last year and the provisional U20 Baby Boks’ 2010 Junior World Championship squad.

April believes he would not have achieved this success if he’d stayed in the Western Cape, his home province.

‘I decided to sign for the Lions because I believed I could achieve more and develop better as a player,’ says April. ‘Boland is a small union and I wasn’t interested in a future with them. Western Province did offer me a deal, but my mother advised that I shouldn’t take it because of the limited opportunities for young players in Cape Town.’

April attended St Albans Primary and spent Grade 8 at Berg River High before going to Paarl Gymnasium for two years. He returned to Berg River in Grade 11, but signed an amateur contract with the Lions and spent his matric year at Florida High School.

Recognised as a utility back for most of his career, April started playing regularly at fullback in recent seasons because of his educated boot and ability to counter-attack.

‘I’ve got quick feet, so I love one-on-one situations. If I get into a position, I’m going to beat you. I also have an eye for finding gaps,’ April says. ‘I’m focusing on my tactical and goal kicking because it will make me a better player. My only weakness is that I’m smaller than other players [1.70m and 74kg], but my pace makes up for that. I’m spending time in the gym to develop physically.’

After some impressive performances at provincial and national level last season, Lions U19 coach Wynand Moolman promoted April to his side.

‘Garth made a big impact in our semi-final win against the Bulls away from home. Although we lost in the final against Free State, he still had a great game. He’s definitely in my plans for this season and has a big future at the Lions. His game suits the style of rugby here.’

April confirms that he wants to be part of the Lions’ future.

‘I hope to be part of the U19 or the U21 squad this season,’ he says. ‘In five years’ time, I see myself playing in the senior team and hopefully be in contention for a spot in the Springbok side.’

By Gareth Duncan

– This article first appeared in SA Rugby magazine