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EXCLUSIVE | Montpellier star Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg on France, Jake White's 'mind games' and his future

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Montpellier lock Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)
Montpellier lock Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)

Sport24 asked: Why did you decide to leave South African rugby?

Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg:  My road at the Bulls closed (Janse van Rensburg played for the Bulls senior team from 2014 to 2016) because I didn’t earn a lot of game time and there were different opinions about me. Jake White (who was then coaching at Montpellier) actually came into contact with me via my agent and he said, “If you come to France you will get some game time.” The rest is history. I have been in France for five years and for now I am happy. The club has been good to me and I have enjoyed my time. I left home when I was 21, started a new life in France and found my feet as an individual. I was still daddy’s little boy before I left and he did everything for me. However, when I came to France I had to do everything for myself. I have grown up and become my own man. On the field, I usually played lock but this season I have played quite a few games at flank. I won’t say I’m on Pieter-Steph du Toit’s level at flank but it has developed my game and I am more versatile than ever before. You have a few more seconds because you are out of the scrum earlier and you are a little bit loosier. In France lock play is a little bit different than in South Africa. As a 4 lock here I call the lineouts and I’m more in the Victor Matfield profile. My teammate Paul Willemse takes on the enforcer role, while my strengths are in the lineout, running and competing. I can bash it up but even though I’m two metres tall and 115kg, I’m small compared to some of the locks and was told I was too light! Some weigh between 135-140Kg and I was moved to flank to make the pack heavier.

Sport24 asked: How would you describe the culture at Montpellier?

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