Springbok Rugby Payer
How do rugby players rate in fitness compared to other codes?
Obviously there are different types of fitness for different types of athletes. A long distance runner, for example, will be vastly different to a rugby player because he will focus on his cardiovascular fitness a lot more than a rugby player might.
We have to combine our cardio with strength training, so perhaps that makes rugby players a little better in terms of all-round fitness.
Who are the fittest players?
In the tests we do with the Springboks, the smaller players like Brent Russell do well. The loose forwards are also up there, with Joe van Niekerk impressive.
At the tests we did at the beginning of the year, CJ van der Linde was the strongest Springbok, while Jacques Cronje was benching 170kg, making him the strongest of the Bulls. In a one-rep bench press, I can do 155kg.
How do you cope with injury?
It's very frustrating, I've been out for six weeks with a knee injury and have missed the start of the Vodacom Super 14.
For the first three weeks I wasn't allowed to do anything with the knee, no cycling, running, anything.
I had rehab to build the muscles around the knee and we have this thing at the Bulls called the powerplate that we use to help in rehab. Having an injury is the hardest thing for a professional sportsman.
Are the Australians fitter than the South Africans?
I wouldn't say so. You have to remember that the South African Vodacom Super 14 teams have been training since November, while some of the Australians only got started in January.
In what departments do lock forwards need to be strongest?
We do a lot of leg work for the line-outs, so we do a lot of explosive work in the gyms to improve our reactions and strength in that department. We also do a lot of upper body training for the scrums.
What's the toughest bit about scrumming?
(laughs) I think the locks have it easy compared to the guys in the front row. They're the ones taking the big hits and suffering a bit more. We get worked over at the rucks more than them, though.
We have a Greek guy at the Bulls, Basil Carzis, who is very good. He has a powerlifting background and the Greek Olympic weightlifting team always does well. He's been superb for the Bulls and is one of the big reasons we are such a strong team.
What is your gym programme?
Rugby players don't work on specific parts of their bodies to make them pretty. We don't go in on a Monday to work on our biceps, or on Tuesday to work on our abs. The guys call that 'beach' gym. We work on overall strength. We use a lot of Olympic weights and exercises that strengthen the whole body, like squats.
Supplements and foods?
We have to eat healthily to maintain muscle weight and we're pretty good about that. I use a range of USN supplements from protein drinks to creatine.
What?s your post-match routine?
Ice baths and jacuzzis. Hot and cold so that our bodies can recover quicker. It's three minutes in the ice bath, then in the jacuzzi to warm up, then back in the ice bath. We do that three times. Sometimes we swim after games. It's all about getting the lactic acid out of your body.
How do you relax or celebrate after a match?
In the old days the guys would go out for beers. We have a little bar in our locker room and directly after the game the guys will have a quiet drink with their wives and kids there.
Your best times are spent with??
My wife, Monja, and our baby girl, Jaime (who was born on New Year's day). I spend a lot of my free time with them. I also like to go out with my buddies now and then for a beer. You need to relax and keep the good people close.
If you hadn't been a rugby player you would have been??
I studied for my B.Comm, but I always knew I was going to be a rugby player. It was what I always wanted to be.
This article appears courtesy of GQ magazine.