Warrick Gelant’s progress with the Stormers is an exciting prospect after his refreshingly honest acknowledgement of where he stands as a player, writes DYLAN JACK.
Having joined the Stormers from the Vodacom Bulls, Gelant is set to launch the next phase of his career, which should, in his words, see him become a ‘complete fullback’.
The 25-year-old has long been heralded as one of the country’s premier talents and touted as the experienced Willie le Roux’s successor as the next Springbok fullback. Unfortunately, injuries rattled the early stages of Gelant’s career and he has since struggled to find the consistency that would allow him to take the next step in his rugby career.
As good a servant as Gelant was for the Bulls – having spent over five years in Pretoria – it has become increasingly clear that he needed a change of scenery and a new challenge to continue his growth both on and off the field.
While some players may have been frustrated by the limitations of South Africa’s Covid-19 lockdown, Gelant has embraced it as an opportunity to make a concerted effort to use his time constructively. This much is clear from his YouTube series ‘Breaking Chains’, during which he chatted to a variety of sports personalities about a range of interesting subjects.
Listening to Gelant as both an interviewer and interviewee, he comes across as a deep thinker with a range of different interests, someone who isn’t satisfied unless he is constantly evolving as a player and person.
In his first press conference as a Stormers player, Gelant outright said that he wasn’t where he wanted to be at this stage of his career, despite the fact that he picked up a World Cup winners medal at the age 24.
It is apparent that Gelant has used the lockdown to undergo intense introspection. He has spoken about taking his game back to the very basics and using the time to work on the core skills that rugby players don’t often get the time to work on during the hustle and bustle of a regular season.
‘I think what I’ve learned during this time is the value of minimalism,’ Gelant told SA Rugby magazine. ‘I feel, sometimes, our minds and focus can be all over the show, with attention on a whole lot of things at one time. I feel lockdown allowed us just to slow down in a lot of ways, and to bring me back to my values, and I feel I’m a lot more priority-based now.
‘I’ve been able to use this downtime to reflect and work on myself. Once I did that I could see that some of my focus was split in certain ways, but now I was able to just focus on what should be most important.’
If personal growth is what he is seeking, Gelant has chosen a fine team to pursue that with. As a coach, John Dobson is known for inspiring his players to grow their knowledge beyond what takes place on the field. Under Dobson, the Stormers have become a closely-knit unit, embracing each player’s unique characteristics and differences, while pulling together for the best of the team.
Now that he is back home, in the province he grew up in and with the team he supported, Gelant can focus on realising a long-standing dream and join the pantheon of great Stormers fullbacks.
Photo: Mike Maytham