Allan Michael Elgin Dell is a young man with dreams big enough to match his imposing physique. At 18 years of age, the promising young tighthead prop already tips the scales at an impressive 115kgs and he has been widely tipped as a future star based on his exploits for Queens College and the Border Craven Week side. Sharksworld was lucky enough to corner the young man, who is due to join the Sharks in 2011, in between writing Matric exams, for a quick chat.
We decided to start at the beginning, asking Allan to tell us a little bit about his origins and where and when his rugby career began. “I was born in Humansdorp and went to school in Queenstown,” he tells us. “I grew up on the farm there, with a whole community consisting of lots of members of my family – parents, grandparents and so on. My parents decided to send me to Queens College where I would be the fifth generation of our family to attend that school. My father made me start playing rugby whe I was small – tackling little sheep and calves in the shed. When I went to school, I started playing seriously – under 8s and under 9s and that was when I seriously started enjoying my rugby. I used to play eighthman when I was still one of those little skinny farm kids, but then I started getting heavier and lazier and slow, so I moved to the front row when I was about 11.”
We inevitably moved onto heroes and role models and asked Allan who the players were that inspired him when he was growing up. He tells us that “when I was small I always used to love watching Jonah Lomu – I tried to play like him. But then I started following guys like Carl Heyman – I think he’s really good – and guys like Euan Murray and Rob Kempson.” Kempson is a fellow Queenian, one of that school’s four Springboks. The other well-known one is, of course, Bok assistant coach Dick Muir. Allan tells us a little more about his high school rugby career at Queens: “I played under 14a and 15a and then when I was 16, I made the first side. I also made the Grant Khomo Border side that year and the SA High Performance squad that they picked. I then made Craven week last year and this year and was also lucky enough to make the SA Schools and SA High Performance squads. I was vice captain for the SA HP squad in the game we played against England earlier this year.”
Allan has clearly been identified as a leader and apart from captaining his school’s first side his year, was also chosen as Head Boy. We asked him if he considers himself a natural captain. “I only started being the captain at under 16 level – other than that I haven’t really been captain. In my game I always try to encourage the guys next to me and try to lift them. This year was no different – I didn’t really try to change my whole game or anything. I just concentrated a bit more on the guys around me – kept their heads up and tried to keep them motivated and get the best out of them.”
Asked about why he chose to continue his career in Durban, Allan was full of praise for the Sharks. “I believe the Sharks have got the best props – in Jannie du Plessis, Eugene van Staden and Wiehahn Herbst – I really think those are the best props in South Africa and I really want to learn lots from them. I also think the Sharks are a very profesional outfit, especially for younger players. They’ve got a good family environment and the support is great. They play good rugby and I really want to become a part of that.”
Looking ahead to his goals for the next few years, Allan tells us “next year I want to crack the Sharks under 21 side and also make the SA under 20 side. If that doesn’t work out, I’ll be happy to play under 19 for the Sharks. But if I don’t make those goals next year, I’ll just keep working hard. The thing is, there are so many talented guys who are on the same level – every school has a good tighthead prop and there are only so many unions. It’s going to come down to who works hardest and wants it the most. I have to keep my goals in sight, though and I want to definitely represent the Sharks by the time I’m 21. I mean, guys like Owen Franks and Ben Slipper are playing international rugby at tighthead at 21. If they can do it, why can’t I do it?”
Sharksworld would like to thank Allan Dell for his time and wish him all the best for the future, starting with his Matric exams, but also with his rugby career with the Sharks!Tweet