Ti­aan never had it easy

The Citizen (KZN) - - Sport - Ru­dolph Ja­cobs

From be­ing a day labourer in Aus­tralia to se­cur­ing a spot in the Lions’ Su­per Rugby squad, the path fol­lowed by 23-year-old full­back Ti­aan Swanepoel is a re­mark­able story.

Hail­ing from the West­ern Cape, Swanepoel (below) said yes­ter­day he had learned some life lessons over at West Har­bour Pi­rates in Aus­tralia, where he worked dur­ing the day and trained at night.

“I did three dif­fer­ent jobs in fac­to­ries,” said Swanepoel, who was be­lieved to be able to kick dis­tances of up to 60 me­tres.

“I had to carry sand bags, take the rocks out, and in my last job at a tech­nol­ogy firm I had to carry TV sets around.

“I had to do it for a lit­tle bit of money to sur­vive, and train­ing at night was quite tough on the body.”

Schooled at Stel­len­berg, he played in the Un­der-19 Cur­rie Cup com­pe­ti­tion, spent two years at Maties, and then played in the U-21 Cur­rie Cup tour­na­ment for West­ern Prov­ince.

Swanepoel was later con­tracted to the se­nior Prov­ince side, but then picked up a hip in­jury which re­quired surgery.

“Then my agent said my best chance was to go to Aus­tralia, and it was a great ex­pe­ri­ence to stay there and work there, un­til the Lions op­por­tu­nity came around,” he said.

“I had a job from 8am to 5pm, and then in the evening I had to train and went to bed at 9pm to work again the next day.”

Ex­pected to be named in the Lions squad for their Su­per Rugby opener against the Jaguares in Buenos Aires next week, Swanepoel was ex­cited to see where the Lions were headed this year.

“The style we want to play at the Lions is a run­ning and kick­ing game, whereas the Lions prob­a­bly strug­gled to play a kick­ing game in the past,” he said.

“I’ve shared the lessons I’ve learned with my team-mates.”

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