Two schoolboys from different walks of life will embark on different rugby adventures in 2009. Although their paths crossed in 2008 at the annual Craven Week, it may be some time before they face each other again in the cauldron that is South African provincial rugby.
Christiaan Johan Stander, or CJ to his friends, played number 8 for Oakdale Agricultural College in Mossel Bay this year, incidentally, the same school which bred Sharks captain Johann Muller. At 1.89m tall and 100kg, he’s already a strapping youngster and a fine leader, captaining the unfancied South Western Districts team at the 2008 Craven Week to some great results. Stander enjoyed a great tournament and was named as the number 8 (and captain) of the South African Schools team at the end of the week. In the final game, SWD downed a strong Free State side and Stander emerged as the hero of the hour.
As a former age-group fly-half, Stander is incredibly quick and models his play on that of his hero, Bulls loose forward Pierre Spies. Coming from a family of Blue Bull supporters, Stander quickly grasped the offer of a Bulls junior contract when it was offered to him and he will be heading north to study at Tukkies next year, while he learns his trade under Spies and the other Bulls loosies. With the strong pedigree that this youngster has shown, don’t be too surprised to see him rise up through the ranks quickly in Pretoria. One suspects that he might find himself shifted to the open side of the scrum in time, a position where the Bulls lack genuine talent.
Going back to that final game at Craven Week, though, we note that Stander’s direct opponent was one Andries Adriaan Theisinger, also a number 8 and also a captain, hailing from that famous nursery, Grey Kollege in Bloemfontein. Although weighing in at a similar 100 kgs, Theis stands 1.96m tall in his socks and is only going to get bigger as he matures. The talented Free Stater didn’t have the best of Craven Weeks this year but has shown over the course of two years in the Grey First XV what a talent he is, to the extent that he apparently had Kiwi scouts crawling all over him during the schoolboy showcase event. Adriaan Theisinger is, according to those who have watched him play, one of the future greats of the game and it is a major coup for the Sharks that he has been lured to Durban to further his development at the Sharks Academy in 2009.
Missing out on SA Schools selection was obviously a big blow for Theisinger and he is sure to go all out over the next few years to show that he has just as much to offer as his schoolboy rival, CJ Stander does. Don’t be too surprised to see some epic battles between these two in years to come, wearing their respective shades of black and light blue. Then again, if Theis packs on a few more pounds in the next few years, he might end up becoming too big for Stander to handle. Assuming, of course, Stander doesn’t run right around him…Tweet