Fresh from their victory, WP U21 stars Mike Willemse, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Craig Barry, Entienne Swanepoel, Stephan Coetzee, Jean Kleyn, Dillyn Leyds and Rayn Smid; give us the low down
What is it like to be in the U21 WP set up?
I can honestly say it is one of the best set ups I have been a part of, from the coaches to just the squad members in general. Everyone plays their part in making our team a success. The squad has a bunch of different characters and it helps create an amazing team vibe that makes you proud to be a part of.
It’s a lot of fun and there is a great vibe in the team.
It has been such an amazing two years for me. Rugby wise but more importantly growing off the field. The way Dobbo and Dawie get us to believe that it is never about winning, it’s about building a family and relationships off the field. It’s about love at the end of the day.
It has been great doing something that you love with a amazing bunch of people. It’s been a privilege. We are an extremely close team on and off the field. All my teammates and coaches have taught me so much.
It’s absolutely fantastic, probably the best side I have ever that the pleasure of playing with in terms of brotherhood and team spirit. The coaches create an excellent environment for the players to bond and truly become a team.
It’s a great privilege to play for any WP team but I think we had a special group of players that gelled and were prepared to walk the extra mile for each other.
It’s a great privilege to be a part of such an amazing team. I am proud to say that I am a part of the group that won the U21 Championship.
It was really good, not just for developing as a rugby player but as a person you learn a lot about life as well.
What moment stood out for you during the game?
I would not say there was one moment in particular that stood out for me. We all understood how massive the physical encounter would be with all the senior players coming down and there was just a true sense of desire within our team to win and it could be felt in the dying stages of the game when we were defending our line for the win. If I had to choose one moment, it would have to be when Notshe broke through the Bulls defence from a standing start.
When we scored the maul try in the right corner, I think that was when we broke the Bulls.
When the forwards mauled their pack into pieces. That was a defining moment in the game.
• Notshe: my best moement was when we had our last scrum and Mikey shouted at me and said “ Notshe, are we in?” that was a defining moment and gave all of us the motivation that we needed to finish them.
Besides the final whistle I would have to say our first mauling try, that was the moment when I think as a forward pack we got the mental upper hand.
I think when we got the cup and gold medals on the stage because we knew all the hard work had finally paid off.
When they scored the first try and we returned straight after.
• Craig: Most certainly the end whistle, It did not just mean the end of the final but it meant that we are the champions of 2013
How did you feel when the final whistle blew?
A huge amount of relief and excitement, for all the celebrations to come.
Personally a massive relief but overall I was ecstatic.
I can’t explain the exact thought at that time but all I know was that I ran towards Craig Barry and gave him the biggest hug. We had achieved something we said we were going to do a year ago after our loss in 2012 final. It was something special to be involved in with a really special team.
• Notshe: Well firstly I ran to the shark senior team who were warming up, I tried to celebrate with them thinking they were my team mates and then I discovered they weren’t. It was a proud moment for me, I felt relieved and emotional. I could not believe it was the end and we had won. One of the best moments in my life.
I could give you thousand words that describe the complexity of that feeling, but the ones I can give are elation, relief and a feeling of utter accomplishment would probably best describe it.
Mixed emotions. Relieved, happy, thankful and blessed.
It was really emotional bur a great feeling because of all the hard work we have put in as a team, it paid off at the end of the day.