Check out this wide-ranging interview with South Africa-born loose forward Johan Meyer, who has been coping with Covid-19 lockdown in Italy.
You are in Italy, the country been hit hardest by the coronavirus pandemic. What is like at the
‘It’s a new normal for most of us. The daily routine of waking up with a full day’s schedule and a feeling of purpose has gone. Now it’s figuring out how to stay physically fit and mentally occupied, while waiting this out. To put it plainly, there is nothing going on here.’
What are the challenges you and your family struggle with?
‘There are things we miss, like going for the occasional coffee, walking our dogs and socialising with friends. But there are far greater challenges being faced than having your movement and contact limited. So we’ve haven’t got much to complain about, not when you think about what others around us are going through.’
How do you and your family stay calm and relaxed during this trying time?
‘We take it one day at a time and try focus only on what is in our control. It doesn’t always work, but it helps keep the stress and anxiety levels considerably low.’
How are you keeping busy?
‘Training in the morning, a quick sneak out to the park behind our house to give the dogs some relief, working on being a pro gamer on Fortnite and occasionally getting into conflict with my wife.’
Have you considered returning to South Africa until it all blows over?
‘Yes, I did. However, there was a lot of uncertainty on whether training here would continue and before we knew it, the South African government had placed a ban on international travels. We then decided to wait it out here as to not place out families or other South Africans at risk.’
You represent Italy at international level. Is Italy ‘home’ now?
‘South Africa is and always will be home to me and family. But Italy has become a second home and my love for this country grows with every new experience I go through here.’
‘You’re only 27. Would you consider playing for a South African Super Rugby franchise?’
Yes, definitely. But I’m not entirely sure how that would impact my Test career. At the moment I’m happy at Zebre.
What do you miss most about South Africa?
‘How much time do you have? I miss everything about our country. But I miss my family and biltong the most.’
Do you have any phobias?
‘I have serious FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). I know it’s not the case, but a little voice in my head keeps telling me I’m missing out on a lot of things while I’m at home.’
If you could invite three people to dinner, who would they be?
‘Bill Gates, Pierre Spies and Trevor Noah. There’s just about enough business acumen, religious belief and entertainment between the three of them to keep me stimulated.’
If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
‘To make Covid-19 disappear without a trace to end everyone’s suffering.’
What winds you up?
‘Uncertainty, and there is a lot of it at the moment.’
What’s your guilty pleasure?
‘Chocolate and pizza.’
Do you have hidden talents?
‘I can make a very good spaghetti Bolognese.’
*This interview featured in the new issue of the magazine, which is now on sale.
Photo: Getty Images