Jano Vermaak has signed a new contract with WP Rugby in a effort to make the World Cup squad and to come back home. Benedict Chanakira had a chat with Jano on his time in Europe and his new adventure that will start with WP Rugby soon’
By: Benedict Chanakira (BC)
BC – From the Lions to the Blue Bulls. You made your name at the Lions. What was it like there, especially during a tough Lions time?
JV – First of all my time at the Lions shaped me into the professional rugby player that I am today. I had an awesome 7 years at the Lions, and enjoyed every moment of my rugby at the Lions. We had some tough times but most importantly we had some brilliant times as well.
I especially remember the game that we won against the Crusaders at Ellis Park in 2007. I scored my first super rugby try at the Lions, the first of many and will cherish every rugby game that I was able to play for the Lions. Rugby is sport where you need to take each and every opportunity that comes your way and I was able to do that at the Lions.
BC – How beneficial was your move to the Blue Bulls?
JV – Well Benedict, I played some of my best rugby at the Bulls and was fortunate enough to get my first Springbok cap while playing for them. My family who supported me so much during my rugby career also stayed in Pretoria, thus for myself, it just made sense for me at the time to make the move to the Bulls.
I would like to quote Bryan Habana who made an unbelievable speech during my capping ceremony after my first test against Italy in Durban. Bryan basically said a “rugby player’s goals are made so much easier for him to reach, if a player has the full support of his family.”
I would like to mention my family and thank them again for all their support through the hard times and some of the best times in this game of rugby that we love so much.
BC – Your stint in France saw you play for Stade Toulouse. How good is your french ? How is the French culture?
Benedict, I will be honest with you… I LOVE TOULOUSE! It is one of the best city that I have ever lived in and I would like to take this platform and thank all the people of Toulouse who made it such a joy for me to be able to adapt to the Toulouse way of life, secondly I was able to truly call Toulouse my second home.
Special thanks must also go to Jana, Gurthrö, and Damien as well as my Toulouse team mates we are currently preparing for the Top14 semi-final. Toulouse is situated in the region Midi-Pyrénées which is in the southern part of France it is very close to the French-Spanish border. The weather is a lot like that of Pretoria, in the summer where the thermometer can reach temperatures of up to 40 degrees Celsius.
It’s only the winter months where it is a total different story when it snows etc. The southern part of France reminds me so much of South Africa weather wise, and I would not mind to have another opportunity to play rugby in France. One never knows where your career might take you in the future.
To be honest Benedict, the French language is very difficult for me and at school languages was not my strong point. I would say my current level of French is currently as follows; I understand 70% of the language and, I can speak 45%-50%. As the English will say it is basically A-level French.
If I can give some advice to people who wants to learn French it would be that you have to immerse yourself into the French culture in every aspect of the French way of life, if you do that you would learn French in a heartbeat.
BC – How is Top 14 rugby, the need for French teams not taking away games serious and stadium atmospheres?
JV – Let me put it on record if you represent a French sports team, whether it is for rugby or football, from Top 14 to Pro D2, you don’t just represent a club you represent the town that the club belongs too.
This means on game day at home, the whole town will come to the stadium and support their club, their town, their emblem, their pride. Thus, the whole team is swept up into this frantic hometown support which is a huge advantage in all aspects of the game from attack to defence, especially defence!!!
This is the only reason why it is so difficult to win away from home in the French League, because the home team will do its utmost not to disappoint their home town or their home city by losing a home match fixture.
BC – You recently signed with Western Province for two and a half years. What inspired the move?
JV – To see if I can make the Springbok squad again and to play Super Rugby.
BC – What are your expectations during your time there?
JV – Western Province/Stormers have a great setup and the rugby culture at Western Province and Newlands is as fanatic as the French. I am looking forward to set my mark in the Stormers jersey and winning the respect of my team mates.
BC – Who is the best player you have played with and against?
JV – Hosea Gear and Ma’a Nonu
BC – Thank you Jano!