Novices and Newcomers - Paul Delport

2004-07-20 12:37
Before arriving on the scene as new Western Province scrumhalf during the 2001 Craven Week, very little was known of Paul Delport. Since then things have changed considerably.

To date he's captained the SA Schools, the Springbok Under-19 side that won the IRB World Championships two years ago, and most recently, the Under-21 side to a third place finish in the IRB World Championships in Scotland.

Having just returned from international duty where he displayed incredible talent and leadership skills, Delport can't wait to make his full Currie Cup debut.

"My aim right now is to make a mark in the team, especially with Neil de Kock and Bolla Conradie away with the Springboks. Given a chance, I'll do my best and prove to everybody that if you are good you are just as old enough to play."

Delport acknowledges the fact that things will not be that easy for him though as he'll still have to compete with Tertius Carse for the Province No 9 jersey, especially following Carse's match-winning performance against the Pumas at Newlands a few weeks ago. Although he had a good game, he still had to make way for Delport five minutes before fulltime to give him his first Currie Cup run.

The diminutive Province scrumhalf has played plenty of junior-level international rugby, but has only made his first Currie Cup start for the Cape Town based outfit this season.

Delport had to unexpectedly take over the SA Under-21 captaincy after Luke Watson's injury blow against Wales. Not new to the task, he slotted into the position quite well and led the team with honour.

"Captaining at almost all junior levels has been a great experience for me. The best thing about this job though is that all these players are talented and will do anything to make sure they win."

Delport is a great leader and whenever he's given a chance to lead he does it with great poise. His humility makes communication between him and his team-mates a lot easier. What's more is that he has great vision and this allows him to make good decisions rapidly.

However, many rugby experts believe that he still lacks tactical thinking, something Province coach Carel du Plessis and his assistants will have to give more attention to, if they are to improve the youngster's overall game.

And with guys like Conradie and De Kock being part of the Province side, Delport will surely learn a lot from them when they come back from international duty. And who knows with such great determination and talent, he might well be a good replacement for them both at Provincial level for the Springbok No 9 jersey going forward.

Delport is quite happy with the way things are going for him at Province and has no intensions of going anywhere this season. "Province has been my home for my whole life and if things go well I'll stay with them for a couple of seasons. If things don't workout for me, I'll move elsewhere as long as I will get game time.

For the 20-year-old, Neil de Kock is by far the best scrumhalf in the country and he argues that he's been quite outstanding for the Springboks when he's been given the chance. "Neil de Kock is a game breaker. If you need someone to create a try scoring opportunity during the last minutes of the game, he's the man for you."

Delport had to put his studies on hold as he wanted to concentrate more on the Super 12 tournament where he did quite well.

"I had to drop out of my BA Law studies at University of Cape Town (UCT) after being drafted to the Cats' Super 12 side." But now that he's back in the Mother City, he plans to re-register with University of South Africa (Unisa) as soon as things starts to settle down a bit.

Delport matriculated from SACS two years ago and during his time there he played first team rugby, cricket and was also very much involved in athletics, but later he chose rugby as his number one sport.

"For me attending classes at UCT was not different from high school as most of my peers were also there." Delport was at SACS since grade one and he started taking rugby seriously in grade seven and since then he's played nowhere else but at scrumhalf.

Personally, the youngster is down to earth, and enjoys spending time with friends as it gives him time to relax and take his mind off rugby a bit. Although rugby takes most of his time, Delport still finds time to be with his family, and girlfriend Linda.

Delport has achieved quite a lot for a youngster and almost everything that any boy of his age or younger would dream of, but this has not been a walk in the park for him. In growing up in Lansdowne Road and later Plumstead, he was exposed to a lot of challenges, however, through his parents' guidance, he's managed to be where he is today.

While he acknowledges that people like Eugene Eloff, who coached him in the Under-19 Springbok side, Chester Williams at the Sevens, and current Under-21 coach Peter de Villiers, have had a great deal of influence in nurturing his career.

His future plans are to make a name for himself both in domestic and international rugby circles with the aim to earn a senior Springbok call-up one day. And even though he does not have a physique of a "Big Joe", he has a big heart which is something that might well help him make it big time in rugby.

Other things you didn't know about Delport

Most memorable matches:
Beating Argentina 52-5 during the IRB Sevens tournament in Wellington, New Zealand, but the 22-18 win against the Kiwis during the IRB Under-19 World Champs final in France was the greatest moment of my life ever.

Worst moment:
I can't pinpoint a worst moment in my life because I'm a very positive person and I only learn from my mistakes. I've had quite a number of bad mistakes, but they wouldn't be that major to me at all.

Rugby hero:
Gareth Edwards (Wales's greatest ever scrumhalf in the 1970s)

Favourite meal:
Mom's Lasagne

Dream car:
Golf IV GTiR

Best movie:
50 First Dates

Hobbies:
Movies, reading especially fiction novels by guys like Dean Koontz and Clive Cussler.

If not pro rugby what then:
I'd probably be studying BA Law at UCT.

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