Schoolboy star Sergeal Petersen is relishing the prospect of representing the Southern Kings in the 2013 Super Rugby competition.
Petersen is a true product of the Eastern Cape rugby structures. He was born in Humansdorp, and currently attends Grey High School in Port Elizabeth.
A number of unions have been chasing his signature since he won the Player of the Tournament award at this year’s Craven Week, but the 18-year-old says that he is pleased to be representing his home region. He was recently included in the Kings’ Super Rugby squad.
‘This union has worked very hard for a long time, they thoroughly deserve this opportunity,’ Petersen told Schoolboy Derby. ‘It gives the province a chance to compete with the best.’
Rory Duncan, a former Cheetahs captain and now Grey High 1st XV coach, is pleased that Petersen has been granted this chance. Duncan believes Petersen will be the first of many youngsters that remain in the region because of the Super Rugby opportunity.
‘It will allow the province to retain their talent instead of losing it to the other unions who in the past could offer these players a chance to further their careers,’ he said.
Duncan cites himself as an example. He also attended Grey High and played for the Eastern Province academy, but eventually moved to the Cheetahs in 2006 in search of greater opportunities at a higher level.
He returned to the union in 2010 to find a much improved situation, with former Bok assistant coach Alan Solomons now at the helm as director of rugby.
There aren’t many players who get the opportunity to play Super Rugby directly out of school. It is surely a lot to take in for a teenager who is still busy with matric exams.
What Petersen is looking forward to, however, is playing with and learning from some of his childhood heroes.
‘Playing with guys like Luke Watson and Tiger Mangweni is going to be very special,’ he said
Petersen’s form at Craven Week led to selection for the SA Schools side. He then played in the U18 international series against France, England and Wales in August. He scored a try in all three wins to help his team achieve an unbeaten run.
His biggest asset is his pace. He boasts a personal best of 10.46 seconds in the 100m, making him one of the fastest schoolboy players in the country. He also represented South Africa in the 100m event at the 2011 Commonwealth Youth Games.
While Petersen is just 18, Duncan is confident that he will be able cope with the step up to professional rugby.
‘Sergeal is a fantastic athlete, and he will gain an enormous amount of experience training with the [Kings] team. I have no doubt he will be able to adjust.’
Petersen has remained realistic about his goals for the upcoming season and isn’t getting ahead of himself.
‘My goal is to make the touring squad and be a part of the Kings set-up next season, not necessarily to start any games. I am still very young and have a lot to learn.’
Petersen is one of several young players of colour who’ll form part of the Kings Super Rugby squad. Others include fullback Siviwe Soyizwapi and prop Lizo Gqoboka, who all made their senior debuts this year after coming through the EP Academy ranks.
By Michael Glanville-Smith