Pedrie Wannenberg: thanks, Bulls

By admin
26 February 2010

He leans back in the chair, relaxes and sighs contentedly. A broad smile spreads across his face and his eyes sparkle.

Pedrie Wannenburg (29) has reason to look like the cat that’s got the cream. The Bulls forward is only the second South African to have played 100 games for his Super rugby team. The Sharks’ John Smit beat him by a few hours.

Pedrie’s achievement is remarkable considering earlier this year many rugby fans were baying for his blood. His admission that he was on drugs in 2008 prompted calls on the internet and in newspapers for him to quit the game.

The Bulls are like a family and as no one would abandon a son or brother who’s addicted to cocaine so his bosses and teammates rallied around him. At times their support was sharply criticised too.

Pedrie pulled himself together, turned over a new leaf and now everything seems to have been forgiven and forgotten. And he can’t wait to silence critics with his performance this year.

He’s proud of the milestone but the 2010 season isn’t about individual achievement for him and he’s no longer driven by the desire to wear the Springbok jersey. His team’s support over the past few months has made him realise once again rugby is a team sport.

“I’m dedicating this season to my teammates,” he says. “They’re my No 1.”

In their off time he and his teammates enjoy having lunch or coffee at Trademarx, a restaurant near Loftus Versfeld. “But we have to choose the salad and vegetables and stay away from those lekker chips.”

Pedrie knows all too well how tough it is for today’s youth to walk the straight and narrow so he hopes he can use his personal experience to help them. “This week I’m talking to the boys at Waterkloof High,” he says.

Everyone makes their own decisions and their own mistakes and perhaps they can also learn from others’ hard-won experience.

He has no idea what life after rugby will hold for him except that he doesn’t want to farm with his father, Carl, and younger brother Callie (26).

Anyway, retirement isn’t something he’s thinking about yet. First he wants to silence the critics who were so vocal about his drug abuse.

“I want to be my old self,” he says. And if that’s enough to ensure a place in the Springbok team, all the better.

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