Jasper Wiese explains what motivated a move to Leicester Tigers that has catapulted the powerhouse No 8 into the Springbok frame.
Leicester eighthman Jasper Wiese has experienced a meteoric ascension since he stepped off the plane in England. The former Cheetah has been a revelation in the Premiership and will contest the European Challenge Cup final.
Speaking to The Telegraph, Wiese has opened up on what led him to making the decision to join Steve Borthwick’s Tigers side.
‘I was not mad or emotional. I left [South Africa] knowing that I gave it my best and that’s all you can do if the circumstances aren’t in your favour. You can’t do anything about it – you’re only making things worse for yourself if you’re blaming others for your own mistakes.
‘Coming over was just a clean slate. It was a new start for a new club and I was very excited. I knew Leicester were on a journey. Since leaving school, it has always been about the Cheetahs – I was there for six, seven years, so eventually you limit yourself to, “If I only play for the Cheetahs it would be fine”. That’s where I made a mistake; almost limiting myself to not be the best player that I could be.
‘I had a fire in me to start a new challenge and to prove some people wrong who had doubted me.’
There was another reason for Wiese’s move. Though he does not cite the death of his sister Maretha – who was struck down by a bus in August of 2019 – as a reason for the relocation, the tragedy was undoubtedly life-changing.
Wiese and younger brother Cobus, who represented Western Province and the Stormers, both made the decision to leave South Africa at the same time, a move that Jasper says has brought them closer together.
‘We lost our sister about two years back and a year later we both decided to come over here. We have a shared experience of coming over to England; starting something new, in a different part of the world, is something we both shared and has made us closer. Maretha was very fond of us – a real big sister. I think she’ll be looking down on us now and she’d be really proud.’
The brothers have excelled for their respective clubs, with Cobus a powerful addition to the Sale pack. Jasper, however, now stands poised for higher honours after having been involved in the Springbok alignment camps.
‘Sometimes I try to figure out why I’m getting a spark now: why didn’t I do this back in South Africa? It is a bit surreal. Sometimes you wonder whether you’ll ever get the chance, but I’m not getting too excited – the squad has not been announced yet.
‘With all the guys, they’ve been telling us what we have to do to get into the squad, what we have to work on… giving detail on what to do rather than analysing what we already do.’
Wiese has spoken incredibly highly of all the Leicester coaches, but of head coach Steve Borthwick specifically. Borthwick has no doubt played a pivotal role in Wiese’s renaissance.
‘What he does for the team is immense, the work he puts in – along with all the coaches. The amount of analysis done for us makes life so much easier so we can go out there and just play. It is unbelievable.’