Inny-Christian Radebe has opened up about how the opportunity to train with Eastern Province came about and working under former Springbok coach Peter de Villiers. DYLAN JACK reports.
Radebe spent a week training with Eastern Province on a trial basis ahead of their potential involvement in the Franchise Cup.
The 26-year-old hopes he can earn himself a contract with the team as he looks to give his tumultuous rugby career one last shot.
In an interview with SARugbymag.co.za, Radebe explained how he got the opportunity to join Eastern Province’s training, shortly after a failed trial with the Springbok Sevens team.
‘Thando Manana, the general manager at Eastern Province, gave me call when I got back from Cape Town,’ Radebe said. ‘He asked me what my plans are and whether I was still keen to get my rugby career back on track.
‘Of course, I jumped at the opportunity and a few days later I was training in Port Elizabeth.’
Through training with Eastern Province, Radebe has the opportunity to learn from Peter de Villiers, who himself was in the rugby wilderness after he was released as head coach of the Zimbabwe national team.
De Villiers has publicly backed Radebe and said it is a ‘sin’ that the former Sharks player is not at one of the big franchises.
‘He has got a lot of experience and he has won a lot of high-profile games,’ Radebe said. ‘Obviously, he has a lot of knowledge that he can pass on. I have only had a week with him, but in that week I have already learned a lot, looking at the game in a different light.
‘One thing I have really enjoyed about him is the fact that he is looking to give the players freedom to express themselves within the structures. Even though I have only been there a week, I am really enjoying his outlook on the game.’
As a further positive, Radebe reports that his knee injury, which has impaired him since suffering a meniscus tear while with the Sharks in 2017, has not been giving him any problems as of yet.
Towards the end of last year, Radebe trained with the Springbok Sevens team hoping he could prove his worth, but through the intensity of the training his knee again started to act up and he was not offered a contract.
‘I haven’t had any issues. When I went to Cape Town and trained with the Blitzboks, it was just a matter of the intense training that they used. But I am feeling really good, very strong and I am really just keen to get back on to the field.
‘Obviously, I had a few chats with Neil Powell and Marius Schoeman as well. Their whole system is based on hard work. It was refreshing because I had been playing club rugby for the last two years and it is not as intense as a professional set-up. It was also a reminder of how hard you need to work to make it. After the first session, I phoned my brother and said that I had never trained this hard in my life.’
When asked whether he feels if he is in a more positive mindset after a dark couple of years, Radebe gives a definitive answer.
‘My family has played a big role in keeping me positive and keeping me grounded. Over the last few months, I have spent a lot of time watching rugby and analysing. I am comfortable with where I am in terms of my game.’
Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo