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Back You are here: Home Sports Rugby Western Cape Grey's "Tiny" Number 8- Neill Jordaan!
Friday, 04 June 2010 10:13

Grey's "Tiny" Number 8- Neill Jordaan!

IMG_0452_-_CopyNicknames and other forms of names hung upon a person by others can be a strange thing. They can be random names, or they can be shortened forms of full names, or they can suggest something about the person, like the Hulk. And then there's the case where the nickname deliberately does not describe the person. For example take the 18 year old Free Stater who goes by the name "Tiny", he stands 1.9 metres tall in his socks and weighs in at a hefty 104 kilograms of rock hard muscle, runs like a sprinter and is virtually unstoppable. Clad in the Grey College Eighth Man jersey Neill "Tiny" Jordaan is a player who will without doubt be spoken about for many seasons to come and there is the mouth watering prospect of the young Jordaan seriously challenging Pierre Spies in the years ahead for the Green & Gold!

30 first team caps and counting....

Yes let's not get ahead of ourselves we are talking about a schoolboy after all, but even the most conservative critic would have to admit that to see Neill Jordaan play is to witness a prodigy in the making. Gifted with blistering pace and outstanding ball handling ability Jordaan has provided the Grey College team with one of the most talented forwards in school rugby today and has provided them with a solid platform to attack from. The solid Number 8 has been a catalyst for many breathtaking moves for the Grey First Team in the past two years and as Craven Week approached this year he added some experience and weight to an already powerful Cheetahs outfit. Throughout the Craven Week 2010 he unleashed his explosive brand of rugby from the base of the scrum with consumate ease.

Presently the Grey College Vice Captain Neill Jordaan has 39 caps for the 1st XV and when you consider that Grey are basically rugby nomads willing to travel anywhere in the country to find decent opposition you start to realise how daunting it is to be a member of one of South Africa's elite school teams. Yet his introduction to rugby started years before he had laid eyes on the hallowed grounds of Grey and for the early part of his school rugby career he found himself at Ermelo High School in Mpumalanga. Additionally it was only last year that he was approached by Grey College and he found himself in the Bloemfontein stronghold. He took to the rugby ethos of Grey naturally and his obvious talents as a leader were identified allowing him to fit into the 1st Team seamlessly.

"Rugby might be something more than just a game..."

Sometimes we naturally expect that the Grey College First Team is the result of an excellent breeding ground for young rugby players in the Free State yet surprisingly not all the team hale for Bloemfontein. "Mostly the team has come from other schools in Grade 8, not just Grey College's Primary School. I came into an established 1st XV in Grade 11, but I was lucky as they accepted me very quickly and I was made to feel at home right from the start," says Neill.

It was his taste of Grey College rugby that made him realise for the first time that possibly the sport could become a serious part of his future once school was over with. "Yes last year when I arrived at Grey College, I began to realise that rugby might be something more for me than just a game I enjoy," he says adding that he is now focused on doing all he can to pursue a professional career in the sport once his matric year is over. "At the moment my plans after school is that I want to study a BSC in Quantity Surveying and play rugby for the Free State and Free State University," Neill Jordaan explained to SA SchoolSport earlier this year, but he has already had several offers since then and won a bursary from Varsity College and a place at the Sharks Academy when he was awaded Forward of the Tournament at the Kearsney College Easter Rugby Festival.

Being selected for the Cheetahs Craven Week side and the SA High Performance team has thus far been the highlight of his career . On average 14 Grey College players are selected for the Cheetahs side each year and with that type of cohesion they are always one of the top teams to look out for. Neill enjoyed a great Craven Week and soon found himself selected for the High Performance Team that took on France and Namibia against which they recorded some heavy victories.

"Looking forward to the Paul Roos match..." to set record straight

A player in the mould of Pierre Spies one would imagine that the young Jordaan has carefully studied The Bulls eighthman and modelled his game after him. However it comes as somewhat of a surprise to find out that the player he most admires and who he has tried to replicate is an Irishman! "I try to play my own game, but I enjoy watching Jamie Heaslip. He runs a lot with the ball in hand, he is active and becomes involved. Another thing is that he is always looking for work and doesn't like waiting for the game to come to him. Those are the areas I admire and try to implement in my game," says Neill Jordaan.

As is the nature of the beast, Grey College are forced to travel throughout the county in search for opposition who will provide them with the stiffest challenge. They recorded a 100% percent record this year with 18 victories out of 18  and nobody this year looked remotely like taking them to the wire. You name them, Affies, Paarl Boys, Paarl Gym, Kearsney, Monument, Glenwood and many more have all been forced to bend the knee to this school rugby juggernaut. Yet there was one match that Niell Jordaan particulary enjoyed this year  and it was all about setting the record straight before he gets the chance to embark on a professional career. "You know for me this year I am personally looked forward to the Paul Roos match. Last year we had 10 of the Grey players away on SA U19 duty when we played them and Paul Roos managed to beat us in Stellenbosch," says Neill. He got his wish as Grey College turned on the heat and trounced an out of sorts Paul Roos easily near the end of the season.

His school career has now drawn to an end, so has his time spent at Grey and the responsibility of being the Vice Captain but he can look back on a memorable and enjoyable time that he spent playing for the most dominant team in the country. Although his preferred position is Eighth Man he has played everywhere in the loose trio whilst at school and is happy to do so as long "as I was playing for Grey," he adds.

"...Down the line I dream of playing for the Springboks..."

There are still some huge hurdles to negotiate before Neill Jordaan reaches his full potential but anyone who has seen him play realises that he as all the makings of a great player. In the next 5 years the Jordaan has set some realistic goals for himself that he is motivated to achieve, "I would like to have finished my studies and hopefully be in the professional ranks by then too. One on my big dreams is to find myself in the Super 14 for any union. And of course down the line I dream of playing for the Springboks, finding a good job and leading a good life in general," explains  Jordaan.

With the ever present lure to play overseas and how sort after South African rugby players are Neil Jordaan mentioned that he would consider playing overseas if things didn't pan out for him in South Africa although he would prefer to stay in the country. However "...if I got to the point where I wasn't making the next step up, then I would like to explore the world," he says pragmatically.

One hopes that we will see the big Grey College No. 8 thundering around the fields of South Africa for years to come. At the Kearsney College Easter Festival held earlier this year he was awarded a bursary from the Sharks Academy (worth R60 000) and the Sharks fans must be delighted that they potentially have locked in one of the brightest prospects for their union. It remains to be seen exactly where Neill Jordaan will make his mark on professional rugby but one thing is certain is that the mark will be made and South African rugby is just that much more richer for it.

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