Tiaan never had it easy
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.”