Future star: Niell Jordaan

The Grey College No 8 has emerged as one of the top players on the schools circuit this season.

Jordaan was voted the best player at the Kearsney Easter Festival after captaining an unbeaten Grey College side (they beat EG Jansen 47-0, Kearsney 47-5 and Monument 26-6). He was selected as skipper on short notice after Grey’s headboy and 1st XV centre William Small-Smith was ruled out on the eve of the festival due to illness.

‘It was a privilege leading the boys. Being captain motivated me to play harder because I knew I had to set an example,’ says the 18-year-old.

Jordaan was born in the small Mpumalanga town of Piet Retief where he attended Piet Retief Primary before going to Hoërskool Ermelo in 2006. He was picked in the midfield for the Pumas U13B team in 2004 and then represented the union at the U13 Craven Week in 2005 and the U16 Grant Khomo Week in 2008.

Jordaan moved to Grey College in 2009 and earned selection for the 1st XV and the Free State Craven Week side as an eighthman.

‘I made the positional switch in my last year at Ermelo, says Jordaan. ‘My experience in the backline has helped me become a mobile No 8. I have a good understanding with the backs and often join them to add an extra attacking option. My biggest strengths are my ball carrying and vision.’

However, 1st XV coach Ingo Machts says there’s more to Jordaan than just attack.

‘He has good hands and is strong on attack, and he’s a big, strong player [100kg, 1.90m] who makes a good impact on defence. He’s also a capable leader.’

Jordaan is expected to be one of Free State’s stars at the U18 Craven Week later this season and has already pledged his immediate future to the union by signing a two-year junior contract.

‘After I matriculate this year, I want to study quantity surveying at Free State University and progress through the rugby ranks,’ he says. ‘Seeing young guys like Philip van der Walt getting Super 14 opportunities with the Cheetahs inspires me.’

By Gareth Duncan

– This article first appeared in SA Rugby magazine