SP Marais says he is grateful to have received the opportunity to resurrect his career with Western Province. DYLAN JACK reports.
Marais, who grew up in the province and attended Paarl Boys’ High, made his mark when playing for the Kings in the 2013 Super Rugby season, which led to a move to the Sharks in 2014.
After spending the next couple of years with the Sharks, Marais returned to the Kings in 2016 but following the union’s decline into administration, he was one of many players who was left out in the cold.
‘Technically, I was retired,’ Marais told reporters on Monday. ‘I gave everything up and said it was not worth it because there is life after rugby and I set up things outside of rugby to go and work.’
Marais found respite with the Bulls, who he joined in 2016 after being given a trial period, which eventually led to a move to Western Province.
‘I received a random call from [Western Province director of rugby] Gert Smal and, without being stupid, I had to take the opportunity. My desire was too high. I wanted to be here and I wanted to work. It was just a funny way that I came here and was given an opportunity.’
The journeyman says he has settled in the Cape, where he has formed a dangerous back three with fit-again wing Sergeal Petersen and fullback Dillyn Leyds.
‘I have grown up around Western Province. Back in the day when this was still Bellville Rugby Club, I used to come here with my father and kick a ball around.
‘I wouldn’t say that I have necessarily found a home, I am back home. It is also due to a lot of lessons I have learned. Coming from the whole Kings saga and having nothing, and to get given another lifeline was an opportunity I knew I needed to grab.
‘Luckily the timing was right with the coaching staff we have in both the Currie Cup and Super Rugby. I have matured as a player and as a human being. Life is all about timing and for me to be here was basically a full circle for me to come back home.
‘I am just grateful to be in the situation where I am.’
Photo: Dirk Kotze/Gallo Images