Former Cheetahs lock Louis Conradie hopes to make a big impression for Otago in New Zealand’s national provincial championship and earn a Super Rugby contract with a Kiwi franchise. SIMON BORCHARDT reports.
Conradie went to Paul Roos Gimnasium in Stellenbosch and represented the 1st XV for two years.
He played club rugby for Brackenfell, before attending Alan Zondagh’s Rugby Performance Centre and captaining the Boland U20 team.
After a year at Maties, Conradie signed for the Cheetahs, playing seven matches for them across the Rugby Challenge and Currie Cup tournaments.
When his contract wasn’t extended, he joined the Asia Pacific Dragons, who took part in this year’s Global Rapid Rugby Showcase Series. The Dragons played two games against the Western Force and two against the South China Tigers.
‘It was a great experience playing for the Dragons and staying in Singapore,’ Conradie tells RugbyRocks.com. ‘However, the heat and the fact I couldn’t find the kind of meat I normally eat meant I lost some weight, dropping from 118kg to 112kg [he is 2.04m]. But I eventually got hold of some supplements and got back up to 117kg.’
The Dragons were coached by Otago assistant coaches Ryan Martin and Lee Allan. Conradie says he learned a lot from them.
‘They are very detail-driven and work personally with the players. I think I learned more in those three months than I did during my whole time in South African professional rugby.’
Having chatted to his assistants, Otago head coach Ben Herring offered Conradie the chance to play in New Zealand’s national provincial championship and he is set to make his debut for them against Bay of Plenty on Sunday.
‘I’m really looking forward to it,’ says Conradie. ‘Hopefully, I play well for them and can earn selection for a New Zealand Super Rugby franchise; they are quite short on locks here.’
The 23-year-old is living in Waverley, a suburb in Dunedin, and the Forsyth Barr Stadium is just across the harbour.
‘I stay with Mitchell Scott, who plays wing for Otago, and have settled in nicely. Having come from the Singapore heat, I just need to get used to the Dunedin cold!’