Not all of them make it into the Super Rugby squad but that’s not the end. Every union in South Africa has had a Shark bolster their ranks. The majority of you will not recognise his name but in a few years you will recognise yet another young South African talent on an adventure in Australia. Determined, hard working and a special player. He is the equivalent of Jack Bauer on a rugby field! Benedict Chanakira spoke to his name sake Greg Bauer!
Tell me about your time at the Blue Bulls Academy then the Sharks Academy,the Pumas then the Sharks again?
GREG- So rugby actually started in Pretoria (PTA) at the Blue Bulls Rugby Academy. The best thing about being based in PTA is, it really taught me a different style of rugby and it was always a physical game week in and out. The Pumas U19 was a major honour for me as I had never played Provincial rugby and it was amazing. The Sharks Academy really helped me to balance my rugby life and studies, they really helped me take my rugby to the next level in being in a professional set up.
Playing for the Sharks?
GREG- Playing for the Sharks was a dream come true to pull on the black and white jersey. Having grown up in Durban I have always been at the stadium from a young age watching the Sharks play. So to be playing in Kings Park felt so unreal and was a major privilege.
How has the experience at different provinces benefited you and assisted you in realising your dream?
GREG- Playing in different unions was great. I learnt different rugby styles and game plans. It also gave me the opportunity to be coached by the best coaches in South Africa who have also played big rugby in the country and outside the country. I have been very lucky to have been mentored by Etienne Fynn former Springbok and a Shark himself he helped me with the technical aspects of my game.
GREG- Well I had taken a holiday to Australia last year in November and I had fallen in love with the country and with my mom living in Australia I thought I would like to try something new and a complete adventure. I really hadn’t planned the move to Aus to be honest, I was still contracted to NMMU and I just woke up one morning and said I’m going to give it a full go and move to Aus and try make my dream a reality.
What do you aspire to achieve in your time in Australia?
GREG- Well im reaching for the highest possible level that I can achieve to be honest. I would like to make it into the Melbourne Rebels squad for Super Rugby. But at the moment I have been training with the Melbourne Rising squad and hoping to make final squad which will consist of half Rebels players and make up the local talent from local competition. The Rising will be competing in the NRC( National Rugby Competition) and this will be a great exposure for me. I will try to boost myself to be drafted into Rebels camp hopefully.
Your Varsity Cup move? Where history was made by the NMMU side which was almost a Sharks Academy old boys team?
GREG- Varsity Cup was one of the most amazing experiences and the competition is very exciting running rugby, Varsity Cup is good exposure for players coming out of junior Currie Cup and helps that it very well backed by SARU. I suppose I was very lucky to be involved in something special and lucky to play with guys that wore the black and white jersey before me. It was nice
to have also met guys that I played or knew before getting down there.
Fondest rugby memory?
GREG- I think finding out that I was going to be playing my 1st game for the Sharks, and to beat the Bulls at Loftus.
GREG- Must be when I got my 1st cap For Collegians 1st XV, I had a late call up from coaches Paul Flanagan and Graham Furber to the 1st side in the week. I was still in u20. So to help Collegians score a try that helped us beat Rovers by 1 point. 11-10 I will never forget this try because the players I was playing with and against had been in Vodacom cup team for the Sharks, they had been knocked out the semis so they joined back to their clubs and these are a lot of the players who are currently in the Super Rugby Competition.
Who inspired your rugby pursuit? Your hero growing up?
GREG- Well my biggest hero is my dad. He is always behind me in every decision I have made. It was hard for him to say good bye to him, but he knows that it’s what I needed to make my rugby go further. My rugby hero will still be John Smit he was one of the world’s best players and leaders in rugby.
GREG- Hmm every game is a hard game so I must say the hardest game to play must be the BLUE BULLS!
Challenges, sacrifices you have made to move abroad to gun for your dreams?
GREG- Well the toughest challenge I have had to face is leaving my Dad behind, but also my friends and family. Starting a new life is never a easy thing no matter where you go. But I know this is the best choice I’ve made to chase my dreams.
How different is it in Australia to SA? Rugby coaching, training and playing style?
GREG- Well Australia and South Africa have a similar type of playing style of rugby, the only thing which is very different is that I am playing with a lot of boys from all over the world, UK, NZ, Fiji etc. So playing with these guys really helps you learn different rugby styles especially the Fiji boys. It has been very hard but they move the ball well with great skills. Coaching patterns are different but nothing you can’t get used to. Playing in Aus has really helped my game to change it up and have a new style of rugby.
Thank you Greg!
GREG- Its a pleasure,