At home with Shark’s JP Pietersen

By admin
16 April 2010

JP Pietersen is painfully honest about the spot he and the Sharks are in. The Super 14 season is almost over and the Sharks are in the bottom half of the log with more losses than wins.

‘‘This may sound strange but the past while has been good for us as a team and as a family,’’ he says at his new Durban home. ‘‘The pressure has pushed us out of our comfort zone. Now we have to get back to the high standard of play we know we can achieve. I love the challenge.’’

The mistakes have made JP and the Sharks determined to win their remaining matches and reach the semifinals.

JP is the 775th player to receive a Springbok call-up and he’s responsible for one of the most memorable moments in Springbok history.

‘‘The whole World Cup experience flew by so fast but I’ll never forget that tackle,’’ he says.

It was the 2007 World Cup quarterfinal against Fiji, with the score at 23-20 in the Springboks’ favour. Ifereimi Rawaqa raced towards the tryline and JP managed to bundle him out before he touched the ball down.

‘‘What I remember is he was big and he was fast and he had the ball in the wrong hand,’’ he recalls. ‘‘If he’d scored Fiji would have gone ahead on points and probably won. While we were waiting for the TV referee’s decision we could hear the crowd chanting for Fiji.’’

It was the turning point in the game and South Africa eventually won 37-20.

Megan Weir-Smith (22), JP’s girlfriend of two years, walks onto the veranda, hugs him and returns to the kitchen.

‘‘That was the moment I stepped out of Bryan’s [Habana] shadow,’’ he adds.

Next year’s World Cup looms large in his aspirations but JP feels he has to achieve with the Sharks before he can think of bigger things. ‘‘The World Cup is a long way away. If I work hard and concentrate on success here and now everything will fall into place.’’

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