The last few seasons have seen some of the talent that has graduated from the Sharks academy move North to the Lions. One of these talents is Mike Rhodes. He spoke to us about his rugby life thus far – but expect to see more from this developing talent!
All Things Jabu (ATJ): What are your aims for the 2012 season?
Mike Rhodes (MR): I am looking forward to having an injury free end to the 2012 season, as I have been hassled by injury in the past few years. I think if I can get that right I am just looking to play consistently good rugby and challenge for top honours.
ATJ: What was the biggest challenge when you made the move from the Sharks to the Lions?
MR: It’s always a challenge moving unions. You have different people, different surroundings, and different ways of doing things. I think it is always going to be a challenge moving to any union and trying to cement your position, fortunately the management and players made the transition easy and I felt at home immediately.
ATJ: Why do you think that the Lions have struggled to take Currie Cup form into Super Rugby form?
MR: There have been many theories thrown around by the media with regards to our poor performance in super rugby. It’s hard to put your finger on something specific and I won’t attempt to do that. All I will say is that we don’t have the depth that some of the other unions enjoy and in many instances when a starting player gets injured the replacements do not have the same experience. We did have a lot of injuries before the start of the 2012 super rugby season.
ATJ: Who has been the hardest loose forward opponent to play against?
MR: This is always a tough question to answer as all the players at this level bring different aspects to the field. If I had to narrow it down I would have to say Liam Messam.
ATJ: Did coming from a strong rugby school like Michaelhouse assist in your rugby development?
MR: Yes it definitely had a influence on my rugby. In the last decade Michaelhouse has produced a lot of good youngsters as is evident when you look at the past few Craven Week sides. There has definitely been more effort and emphasis on rugby since the current director of rugby, Ryno Combrink arrived at the school. This is evident when you see how many pupils that were coached by him have gone on to higher honours.
ATJ: Did it help with your development as a young player playing with players like Keegan Daniel, Willem Alberts and Ryan Kankowski?
MR: As a youngster playing with those guys you learn a lot. Each brings a unique aspect and strengths to the pitch, Willem with his physicality and direct play and Keegs and the Hoff with their pace and skills out wide. I think if you can take and learn some of those aspects from each of them it will put you in good stead. I’m not trying to emulate anyone but just trying to bring my own style of play to the field.
ATJ: What has been your favourite stadium to play in?
MR: All the stadiums in South Africa are unique and offer a different experience, but I would have to say that a packed Ellis Park is amazing!!
ATJ: Did it help with the move North having a player like Pat Cilliers also making the move?
MR: Pat and I have been mates since school and it always helps knowing another player when moving to a new union. Fortunately I also knew one or two of the other players at the Lions before moving up.
ATJ: Which is the role that you feel most comfortable with as you’ve been playing Lock quite a lot recently? Would you consider a permanent move to Lock?
MR: My first choice will always be flank as it is where I feel I can best serve the team. If feel that I play my best rugby at flank. That being said I will play where ever the year needs me but am not considering a permanent move to lock.
ATJ: Thanks so much and good luck for the remainder of the season Mike!