Conversations with World Cup roommate Frans Steyn and the opportunity to build a partnership with flyhalf Handre Pollard were key factors in Cobus Reinach’s decision to make the move to Montpellier, writes CRAIG LEWIS.
Last week, it was officially confirmed that Reinach would be heading from English club Northampton Saints to Montpellier on a three-year deal.
The French club has become a popular destination for South African players, with the likes of Steyn, Pollard, Bismarck du Plessis, Paul Willemse, Jan Serfontein, Johan Goosen and Jacques du Plessis all currently based at the ambitious Top 14 team.
In an exclusive interview with SARugbymag.co.za, Reinach explained that he was at a stage in his career where he ‘needed to be aggressive’ about the growth he’s chasing in his game.
The World Cup winner has scored an incredible 31 tries in only two-and-a-half seasons since arriving at Franklin’s Gardens from the Sharks in 2017, while he is the club’s reigning players’ and supporters’ player of the year.
Ironically, though, the 30-year-old said it was his move to Northampton that demonstrated just how important choosing the ‘right club at the right time’ can be.
‘Frans Steyn, who spent the last few years at Montpellier, was my roommate at the World Cup so I picked his brain about the club set-up and culture,’ Reinach commented. ‘I’ve played with most of the South Africans who are currently there. They’re extremely competitive guys who like to win, so I’m excited to get back on the field with them. I think the Top 14 is arguably the toughest competition at club level currently.
‘Competing on that level on a weekly basis will also give Handre and myself a lot of opportunity to build and refine our partnership. Also considering the fact that my French is non-existent, having a 10 who speaks the same language is a massive bonus. I’m excited to see what can happen in the next three years!’
Reinach added that he would always reflect fondly on his time at Northampton, where he established himself as one of the English Premiership’s most dangerous players, while becoming becoming something of a cult hero at Franklin’s Gardens as a result of his regular length-of-field tries and try-saving tackles.
‘I think my time at the Saints will always be a very special chapter to reflect on. Some of the best times I’ve had on the field have been in a Saints jersey. I scored some really fun tries; we won some silverware and I got to walk my son around the pitch for the first time. All of those were very, very special memories!
‘Looking back, I’d say there was one specific game where things clicked in for me and from that point everything ultimately blurred into one big highlight. The club went through a big transition the year I joined, so the start of that first season was incredibly challenging, but then in the second derby game towards the end of the season everything changed.
‘It was the first time I felt like myself on the field since moving to England. It was also the first time the Saints won at Welford Road in 18 years. Something didn’t just click for me personally in that game, something clicked for the entire team and from that point everything just kind of snowballed for us.’