A year ago Canan Moodie was a ball boy at Loftus Versfeld for the senior team matches. This week, the 19-year-old phenomenon is a key member of the team’s push for Vodacom United Rugby Championship playoff glory.
It’s been a meteoric rise from ball boy to playoffs for Moodie as he prepares to face the biggest challenge of his young career in Saturday’s quarterfinal against the Sharks at Loftus Versfeld.
“I was a ball boy at every game the senior side played last year because I just wanted to be close to the game. Now it’s a massive honour and privilege for me as a youngster in my debut season to be able to help the team from where we started at the beginning of the year to now ending top four. It’s special for me to be playing in the playoffs in my debut season and to have the opportunity to lift the trophy,” says Moodie.
It’s hard to believe that Moodie is hardly two years out of school and already part of a major push for an historic first United Rugby Championship title for the Bulls.
“Two years ago I was at high school at Boland Landbou playing in front of maybe 1 000 people at a small school, and now I’m on a global stage playing in front of 25 000 people. That’s something quite special,” he says.
Moodie’s Paarl upbringing is such that he uses every opportunity to remain grounded. “When I have time I still volunteer for ball boy duty. I’m not putting myself on a pedestal thinking I’m better. I’m just being myself and will keep doing what I’ve been doing.”
This includes keeping in mind the reason he’s been given this opportunity, and to make the most of it.
“What keeps driving me is the hardships I went through and the sacrifices my parents made to get me to this point in my career. This is such a special week going into the playoffs, and when I think back to those earlier days, I get an even greater hunger and drive to go even harder this week and do more reps. That’s the main ‘why’ for me – thinking back to those early days and all the hardships and sacrifices made for me to be here.
“I didn’t expect to have this kind of dream season. It’s special to play for such an historic franchise that’s delivered so many Springboks. As a youngster, playing alongside Cornal Hendricks and Bismarck du Plessis, and catching kicks from Morné Steyn is special. The advice I got from the senior players and coaches is to not take anything for granted. One moment you’re on top of the world, and the next you’re carrying the world. One moment you can start and the next you’re doing fitness and not in the match-day 26. So play every game with everything you have because you don’t know what comes next. Enjoy every moment.”
And that brings him back to this moment in the playoffs.
“It’s playoffs now and this is where the real test of character comes in – where the best come out to play.”
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