Wing Rabz Maxwane has opened about why he moved to the Lions, what he hopes to achieve, and working towards his Bok dream.
While it may not be a complete overhaul, the Lions have inflated their squad comprehensively during the national lockdown ahead of the prospective local competition which is scheduled to kick off in October.
Maxwane had previously been part of the Cheetahs set-up, having spent three years from 2017 to 2020 in Bloemfontein. During his time at the Cheetahs, the speedster set all kinds of records, most notably scoring a PRO14 record-equalling 14 tries in one season in the 2018-2019 campaign.
However, Maxwane had a turbulent end to his Cheetahs career as he was inexplicably frozen out, with little to no game-time during the last 12 months to speak of.
When global sporting events were halted by the raging coronavirus pandemic earlier in the year, throwing player contracts into disarray, the Lions approached Maxwane and he jumped at the chance to take on a new challenge in a different environment.
In a snippet from the latest SA Rugby magazine, Maxwane opened up on the opportunity to join a set-up where he feels he could make a contribution and where he would feel valued.
‘I’ve had some great times in Bloemfontein, but ultimately the team [Cheetahs] moved in a different direction. It’s as simple as that,’ Maxwane said.
‘There was interest [from the Lions] at the beginning [of lockdown], I just had to wait for certain transfers to happen – or not happen – and when they came back calling and decided that they wanted me, it was a no-brainer for me.
‘My contract with the Cheetahs was coming to an end and I just needed certainty that I’d be able to back to work and do what I love when rugby starts up again. It’s a great union with great facilities and hopefully as a team we can still get on the field to play this year.
‘I’ve made no secret of the fact that I want to play for a [Vodacom] Super Rugby franchise. I see it as an opportunity to grow to become a better version of myself. Also playing at Ellis Park, one of the most famed stadiums in the world, was a big plus point. The coaching team was key as well. The Lions have a young management team, one I feel it would be the right for me to work under.’
The 25-year-old says he knows that there will be competition within in the Lions squad for places in the team, but says he is ready to work hard to earn selection and that he wants to improve as a player.
‘I want to grow as a player, to upskill my skillset and to actually know I earned my spot on the team. I feel like having to start over in a new team would reveal something about my character and I would have accomplished something personal.
‘Obviously the game’s not personal but as an individual your goals are. So for me I think being at the Lions will open doors to places I never thought would be open to me.’
When probed about a possible Test career, especially after SA Rugby director of rugby Rassie Erasmus had previously spoken about him in a national context, he said he was confidence in his ability to play at the highest level, but he still has a lot of personal growth to achieve to be ready for that step.
‘I know myself and where I’m at currently and what I’m capable of. So hearing what Rassie thinks gives me extra confidence, but my belief in myself doesn’t rely on others. I still need to play the game.’
*The full version of this article can be found in the latest SA Rugby magazine, now on sale!
Photo: Lions Rugby/Twitter