A prop for all seasons – Sharksworld chats to Patric Cilliers

Written by Rob Otto (robdylan)

Posted in :Original Content, Sharks on 4 Apr 2008 at 12:01
Tagged with :

Patric Cilliers has only just turned 21 and is already something of an enigma. The easy-going young prop really set the early rounds of the 2007 Currie Cup alight, before going down with a cruel knee injury while pulling off an outrageous sidestep against the Lions. After an intensive rehabilitation program, Pat is now back and we are very fortunate to have secured a few minutes of his time for a chat.

We asked Pat a little about where he comes from. “I grew up in the Northern Cape and that’s where I started playing rugby at a very young age; about 6 or 7” he tells us. “Then I moved to the Midlands, where I went on to High School at Michaelhouse.

“I’ve basically played in the front row my whole life – I played a little bit of number 8 in Standard 8, but that was just for about half the season.”

What made him decide to play at tighthead prop, one of the least glamorous and toughest positions there is? “I think I’ve always been more of a big-boned guy… at school, they always stuck me at prop. As for why I played tighthead, I’ve always gone to a smallish school and there always seemed to be a shortage at tigthead prop and I’ve just sort-of stuck there. I’ve enjoyed it.”

What about the less conventional aspects of his game? Pat certainly does a lot more with ball in hand than the majority of number 3’s out there. “I’ve always loved running with the ball and just getting involved – that’s a big part of playing rugby. I like to think my work rate is pretty high, although at the moment it’s pretty low because of my fitness. When I’m fit and running and all is good, I’m pretty mobile. “ he says.

So how did Pat progress from Michaelhouse to the Sharks? “First year out I joined the Academy; they offered me a junior contract with the Sharks. I played for Rovers for the first half [of the season] and for the second half I played for the Natal u19 side, which I captained. From there, Dick brought me into the Super 14 squad for the next year, but at first I didn’t play much rugby. I was mostly what they call ‘in the fridge’– a bulking up program where you just gym a lot and don’t train that much. From there I gained one Super 14 cap and then played Currie Cup. “

We asked him about going straight from under-19 rugby to the Super 14, without playing Currie Cup or Vodacom Cup in-between. “Obviously the step up is pretty huge,” he says. “The pace picks up a lot. I think it’s just like any other step – like when you play Under 16 and you look at the first team and you think you’re never going to be able to play at that level. There are many steps up in life that you just need to take.”

Pat told us that he’s running well again after the injury and things are looking good. We asked him about how he sees the rest of the season unfolding for him. “Well, the number 1 and number 2 tighthead props in South Africa are at the Sharks; I have got the toughest competition. But I’m coming back from injury. I’m in the Wildebeest squad now and played my first game back last weekend and I’m playing again now this weekend. So I’m just working my way back into things and I’m not expecting to play any Super 14 games this year. Hopefully for the Currie Cup I can start coming back into the scheme of things.”

Was he disappointed about not making the Sharks tour squad this year? “I knew when I was due back and it was actually just one game before the tour. My match fitness is still very average, so it wasn’t like I was disappointed not making the tour; I knew where I stood. Obviously my competition is very strong – it’s not just a team that you walk into. You have to perform every week to make the Sharks team nowadays. “

We spoke a little about the Wildebeest team: the challenges that the coaches face. Pat concedes, “if a player gets injured in the Sharks team, then a Wildebeest player will come up, but there might be niggles so they never know who’s going to play, so the Wildebeest coaches have a tough time to even just select a team for the weekend. As to how they’re going, they had a bit of a shaky start; they lost the first two games. Then Deon Carstens came back from injury, as well as Skipper Badenhorst. Obviously their captain Alistair Hargreaves is playing some good rugby as well. They won the last games and are on the up – sort of got one eye on the trophy now. I think we’ve got a really good side, lots of young guys. I think it should be exciting from here on in. “

And what of the new laws? “As far as the Super 14 new rules are concerned, I actually quite like them. I’m not so fond of the full ELV’s in the Vodacom cup, though. There’s basically no such thing as a ruck now. Sometimes it gets a bit scrappy. There’s no such thing as truck and trailer either and you can collapse the maul. I don’t agree with some of the rules, but I am enjoying more short-arms. The game has picked up and is even faster than last year. The game is obviously going to develop every year and it’s a step forward – a more entertaining game so far.”

Our final question was whether the new laws are going to change the role of the tighthead prop in any significant way. Pat doesn’t think so. “When the season started and no-one had played under these new rules, everyone said you’re going to need a lighter and more mobile pack. But we’ve had just as many scrums as last year and it’s been proven that the more dominating pack has dominated loose play as well. Props haven’t changed – a good scrummaging prop like BJ adds just as much this year as he did last year.”

Thanks to Pat for taking the time to chat to Sharksworld. We wish him all the best for the season ahead.


  • Another one for the future…he really did set the CC alight…

  • Comment 1, posted at 04.04.08 12:14:48 by blackshark Reply
    blackshark - I'm back!Super Rugby player
  • oh yeah… this kid is going to be HUGE

  • Comment 2, posted at 04.04.08 12:16:53 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
    robdylanHead Coach
  • Like Pat – think his injury came at a really bad time for him as he was just gaining momentum. Was thinking of going to watch the Beeste in Brakpan tomorrow – will see how my day goes. Might still do that.

  • Comment 3, posted at 04.04.08 12:20:31 by Nessa Reply

    NessaCurrie Cup player
  • Pat has a great future ahead of him. Only concern is that Mox had the same promise but couldn’t quite make it all the way. Enjoy tripping the light fantastic Pat, but always remember that a prop’s primary job is to scrum. I’ll be hoping you live up to your promise.

  • Comment 4, posted at 04.04.08 12:31:11 by Big Fish Reply
    Big FishAssistant coach
  • Great article Rob…thanks

  • Comment 5, posted at 04.04.08 12:36:28 by Dive Pass Reply

    Dive PassCurrie Cup player
  • Did i miss the scrummy interview?

  • Comment 6, posted at 04.04.08 12:45:20 by provincejoulekkading Reply
    Clayton(PJLD)Team captain
  • Mox must be feelin blue… :mrgreen:

  • Comment 7, posted at 04.04.08 12:45:35 by blackshark Reply

    blackshark - I'm back!Super Rugby player
  • the scrummy never answered his phone.

  • Comment 8, posted at 04.04.08 13:05:44 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
    robdylanHead Coach
  • Well thats just rude

  • Comment 9, posted at 04.04.08 13:07:31 by provincejoulekkading Reply
    Clayton(PJLD)Team captain
  • just a little, yes…

  • Comment 10, posted at 04.04.08 13:13:06 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
    robdylanHead Coach
  • He aint no Eddie Andrews… :cool:

    Ag, i suppose he’ll eventually be nearly as good as Eddie in his prime… :roll:

  • Comment 11, posted at 04.04.08 13:19:41 by wpw Reply
    wpwAssistant coach
  • Which scrummy?

    The one with 1 eyebrow??? :mrgreen:

  • Comment 12, posted at 04.04.08 13:21:51 by wpw Reply
    wpwAssistant coach
  • Is Eddie still injured?

  • Comment 13, posted at 04.04.08 13:22:14 by provincejoulekkading Reply
    Clayton(PJLD)Team captain
  • no – the one with the long tongue.

  • Comment 14, posted at 04.04.08 13:24:29 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
    robdylanHead Coach
  • Eddie who?

  • Comment 15, posted at 04.04.08 13:24:47 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
    robdylanHead Coach
  • this is one for the future, hope he stays with us and learn his trade bj jannie beast deon can all show him some tricks

  • Comment 16, posted at 04.04.08 13:28:00 by barend Reply

    barendVodacom Cup player
  • he has only just turned 21… seems to have his head well screwed on as well.

  • Comment 17, posted at 04.04.08 13:32:13 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
    robdylanHead Coach
  • so if its true that props only really mature after 30 he will have a gr8t and long learning curve, 9 years of learning his trade, the future looks good

  • Comment 18, posted at 04.04.08 13:37:20 by barend Reply

    barendVodacom Cup player
  • The scrummie with one eyebrow would never be so rude as to not answer his phone.

  • Comment 19, posted at 04.04.08 14:21:51 by Nessa Reply

    NessaCurrie Cup player
  • Whenever Janine sees him she wants to wax his eyebrows!

  • Comment 20, posted at 04.04.08 14:22:22 by Nessa Reply

    NessaCurrie Cup player
  • Janie can wax my eyebrows anytime… :roll:

    (runs away)

  • Comment 21, posted at 04.04.08 15:19:34 by wpw Reply
    wpwAssistant coach
  • Janine dammit…

    Serves me right for trying to be a smart ass. :oops:

  • Comment 22, posted at 04.04.08 15:20:22 by wpw Reply
    wpwAssistant coach
  • #

    Hi everyone.
    This is totally off any topic and I’m not sure where to post it.

    Myself and Milissa (from the Sharks blog) came up with an idea and we wondered if maybe someone can make it a reality. The Lions has two calenders out this year. One with action photo’s from Lions games and One with their dancers.

    Now we were wondering can’t the Sharks do something similar. Only we want a calender of shirtless smiling rugby playing Sharks and a calender for the guys with all the Shark girls. Maybe a % of sales can go to charity or maybe towards Cedric’s fund. There will definitely be a marked for the calenders. So maybe someone out there know who to talk to and drop the idea. I think the Lions ask around R250 for a calender and the more you order once off the better the price.

  • Comment 23, posted at 07.04.08 17:08:34 by Nita Reply

    NitaVodacom Cup player
  • Hi Nita.

    I have sent your suggestion to someone who MAY be able to help.

    Let’s see what we get back and will then let you know.

    May be a little late for THIS season though, but would certainly be a GREAT idea for next year.

  • Comment 24, posted at 07.04.08 17:15:01 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©Head Coach
  • Thanks KSA! I was thinking that maybe since it’s only April..maybe there is time to get it pulled together for 2009. Like I said to Nita over on the Sharks blog, it doesn’t have to be a big production to the extent of the infamous Dieux Du Stade calendars/DVDs. Just something with our Shark’s guys preferably shirtless, smiling and play the sport that we all love.

  • Comment 25, posted at 07.04.08 19:17:41 by milissa Reply

    MilissaVodacom Cup player
  • Thanks for your help KSA. Let’s hold thumbs that someone pick up on the idea.

  • Comment 26, posted at 09.04.08 10:01:41 by Nita Reply

    NitaVodacom Cup player

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