In the latest issue of SA Rugby magazine, on sale this week, JC Pretorius lifts the lid on how a life-and-death situation inspired his journey to become a Springbok Sevens player.
Pretorius made his senior debut just over a year ago at the 2019 Sydney Sevens and has since been on an upward trajectory. His personal growth and development over that period have been evident, translating into top on-field performances to make him one of the Blitzboks’ standout players so far this season.
In the new issue of SA Rugby magazine, the 22-year-old reveals how the near-death experience of an immediate family member served as his inspiration to play professionally.
‘It’s so far-fetched, I don’t even know how to tell you this,’ he recounts before describing how his father was involved in a freak accident when JC was just six years old.
Having fallen from a zipline, Pretorius Snr went into cardiac arrest, and while in transit to hospital, his heart failed. Upon arrival at the hospital, the Pretorius family was given the devastating news. Yet, there was a miracle to come.
‘A foreign surgeon who had come out to South African to perform surgery on a patient, said he didn’t believe the patient was deceased but that something had gone wrong during the bypass. And he was right, something had strung around Dad’s heart and the miracle doctor acted quickly enough to remove it and save his life.’
Although Pretorius Snr would be confined to a wheelchair for the remainder of his life, his story would inspire his son to go on to dream big.
‘I’m living my dream and my dad is living his dream through me,’ he says.
Pretorius proceeds to map out how his dream to play professionally was almost squashed when he couldn’t find a home at any union in the country after completing his schooling, but then discloses in full detail how and why he ended up in the South African sevens set-up.
*Follow us on our new Instagram journey by clicking here
He then touches on the eerie similarities between him and Kwagga Smith (incidentally both players went to HTS Middelburg), but he says while he is flattered by the comparisons between them, he is dead set on establishing himself as a singular talent.
‘I’ve always been a hard worker and I hope to be judged on that instead of measured by the standards that Kwagga set in this team.’
He also opens up about his embarrassing moments when he first started to train with the Blitzboks, which left him puking every Monday, Neil Powell’s unique relationship with his players, and the Springbok Sevens’ goals and chances at the Olympics later this year.
Read this full interview in the latest issue of SA Rugby magazine.