After representing his country on the biggest stage in world rugby earlier this year, Wian Conradie is now looking forward to pulling the University of Johannesburg jersey over his head for the coming Varsity Cup season.
But the 21-year-old Namibian remains humble in the wake of the Rugby World Cup and awaits the coach’s decision as to what his role in the FNB UJ rugby campaign will be.
“Last year I came in off the bench on several occasions,” said the loose forward.
“Whether I will start on the bench or the field this year is not clear, but we have a great team and many experienced guys that could start ahead of me.”
Conradie grew up in Windhoek, finishing his school career at Windhoek High School, and playing club rugby when he started training with the national side.
And getting the nod from Namibian coach Phil Davies to form part of his country’s Rugby World Cup team was the biggest moment in his young career.
“To be selected for the Namibian team was huge for me. I was part of a big training squad, with a whole lot of loose forwards, and being selected was such a great feeling.”
He said the Namibian rugby set-up is very different from that of other world-leading sides due to the fact that many of the players are not professional athletes. Many of them have careers outside of rugby, play for clubs and train with the national side when work allows it.
“I have a lot of respect for those guys; they juggle so much and still manage to play their hearts out for their country. Playing with them was amazing.”
Conradie said playing in the World Cup was a great experience where he had the opportunity to test himself against the world’s greatest players, and that experience will stand him in good stead when he plays Varsity Cup next year.
“I look forward to putting my international experience to the test in the Varsity Cup. Every tournament has its own set of challenges, but both Varsity Cup and World Cup are top class and make for some awesome rugby.”
Now in his second year of quantity surveying studies, Conradie said his exams were luckily over and, while he waits for his results, his focus will be on training with the rest of the UJ team.
“I feel very positive about our chances in the 2016 competition. Despite dropping out of this year’s Varsity Cup we still did well in every other tournament we played in.
“If we can put a couple of good warm-up games behind us we will be a tough team to beat.”
While the team is focused on their opening match against the FNB Madibaz at home, Conradie is also looking forward to playing against the FNB Maties at the end of February.
“It was a close game and they beat us by one point last time. I think it will be great to play against them again and see what the next result will be,” said Conradie.