Kings and South Africa A flanker Chris Cloete has revealed that a surprise stint of rugby in Sri Lanka revived his career just a year after he had seriously considered giving up the game, writes CRAIG LEWIS.
In the latest issue of SA Rugby magazine, Cloete provides an interesting account of the winding road he navigated until finally finding a Super Rugby ‘home’ at the Kings.
This season, Cloete’s remarkable rise to prominence has seen him emerge as one of South Africa’s leading players in Super Rugby, while he scored two tries in a standout performance for South Africa A in their second match against the French Barbarians in June.
However, unbeknown to many, Cloete’s career nearly came to a premature halt when he contracted glandular fever in 2013, with the viral infection leading to fatigue and considerable weight loss, and which left him questioning whether a return to rugby would be possible.
‘I felt as if I was playing good rugby at the time [after featuring prominently in Western Province’s 2013 Vodacom Cup campaign], and was enjoying working with [WP coach] John [Dobson], but when I contracted glandular fever, I thought that might be it for my rugby career,’ he said in the July issue of SA Rugby magazine.
‘I lost 10kg and it was really tough at times. It made me very weak and I wasn’t able to exercise for about six months; and that was especially challenging because my whole life has been about the outdoors and playing sport.’
Once Cloete had finally fully recovered, he accepted an offer to join Port Elizabeth-based university side, the NMMU Madibaz, for the 2014 Varsity Cup, while a surprise offer then came around to play for Sri Lankan club side, Kandy, in the Clifford Cup competition.
‘Strangely enough, that’s really where I got back into my rugby. If I hadn’t gone there, I honestly don’t think I’d be where I am now. My passion for the game was reignited and it gave me a whole new outlook on what we have going for us in South African rugby.’
After that stint, Cloete eventually rejoined Western Province, before finally finding a ‘home’ at the Kings as they sought to put a squad together ahead of their return to Super Rugby last year.
It’s a move that’s ultimately brought the best out of Cloete and seen him emerge as a serious Springbok contender.
The full article is available in the new SA Rugby magazine, which is on sale now.
Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix