From Moroka Swallows to Junior Springboks, Varsity Cup took the time to catch up with Soweto-born Wits player Wandisile Simelane in between his busy schedule at the Springbok Under-20 camp.
Young Simelane in his first year out of high school has already featured for Wits at outside centre and wing.
He also represents the Lions at junior provincial level and has now been drafted into the Junior Bok team for 2017.
Simelane at junior level, was also apart of the successful Jeppe first team of 2016 as and represented the Lions (U/16) at Grant Khomo (2013 and 2014). He also managed to make Craven Week teams for the next two years, where on both occasions Simelane went on to make the SA Schools side. He is now studying a BA at Wits University.
When asked about the jump from schoolboy rugby to Varsity Cup, Simelane had this to say: “The intensity is a lot higher and the general play is faster than in high school rugby.”
The Varsity Cup has seen many players come through the ranks and end up in the Springbok set up, the competition further brings a unique experience, where as opposed to the traditional route of heading straight to an academy, players can play university-level rugby while receiving a great education.
“The experience has been great. The crowd is great and the general vibe makes it a great competition to participate in and get ahead in my rugby career, whilst getting an education.”
Role models are part of the motivation behind people striving to become better at their crafts. Simelane has one of his own that keeps him motivated to strive for success in his rugby career.
“My role model at the moment is Ray Lewis, because of how he grew up and all the tough times he had to overcome to get where he is, this for me is really an inspiration,” he said.
An interesting fact about Wandisile Simelane is that he is also a great footballer and he feels, if he hadn’t become so successful in rugby, he probably would have gone on to play soccer as he represented Soweto Giants Moroka Swallows at junior level but had to leave that behind for the oval ball.
Simelane has now set his sights on making the Springbok Under-20 team that will play in a Junior World Championship later this year.
Wandisile Simelane’s advice to the young players still in high school looking to get to where he is and beyond is, “They should dream big and never give up, hard work will pay off. Challenge your limits don’t limit the challenges.”
Catch Wandisile Simelane and the Wits team on Monday evening as they look to keep their dream run in the Varsity Cup alive, when they lock horns with FNB Madibaz.