2020 was a year to forget for aspiring rugby players who were “robbed” in pursuit of their dreams of playing 1st XV rugby for their schools in their final school year. It should also serve as a stepping stone to the Craven Week, the SA Schools team and eventually winning a junior contract with one of the bigger unions.
For three Komani players whose dreams have come true despite being inactive last year, it seems all three did enough in 2019 to secure junior contracts with top unions. The year 2021 started with a bang for these rugby players and Komani keeps producing players of the highest calibre who are sought after.
For these three players, like many other youngsters around the country who have a childhood dream to play at the highest level where only a lucky few can make it, it is the start of greater things to come in their rugby careers.
Geraldo Flusk (Blue Bulls)
Born and bred in Komani, Geraldo has been signed on a junior contract with the Blue Bulls. He was schooled at Hangklip before he moved to Grens in East London. He easily walked into the Border U12 and U13 teams. The explosive backline player was snatched by Garsfontein in Pretoria, when he signed a contract with the Blue Bulls Academy. Flusk soon made his mark by being selected for the Blue Bulls Grant Khomo U16 team and became a firm favourite with the Bulls sevens team. Geraldo captured the imagination of the country at the 2019 Craven Week where he was in top form, scoring scintillating tries which led to the commentators nicknaming him the “Rolls Royce of the Blue Bulls.” Those performances didn’t go unnoticed, which elevated him to being selected to the SA Schools team. He has just been selected to participate in the SA Rugby Academy programme in Stellenbosch which will run from April 7 to June 30.
Sihlalo Benge (Lions)
Sihlalo was one of the shining lights of the recent Queen’s College teams that have been in a rebuilding phase. His performances at the 2019 Craven Week did enough to impress the Lions selectors, who did not hesitate to sign the mercurial pivot. The irony is that Benge went into the 2019 Craven Week nursing an ankle injury and started off on the bench for Border. When he eventually started, he grabbed the opportunity with both hands, even proving his versatility by slotting in at centre. This eventually earned him a spot in the SA Schools A side. The left-footed player is a powerful runner and very aggressive. He has a calculated boot and his natural skillset and ability sets him apart. Under the guidance of Springbok and Lions captain, Elton Jantjies, who is ironically Benge’s idol and also a left-footed playmaker, Sihlalo can only grow from strength to strength.
Liyema Mgwigwi (Cheetahs)
The Queen’s College hooker and captain has signed with the Cheetahs. Mgwigwi represented Border at the Grant Khomo Week in 2018. He kept up his impressive form for the Queen’s College 1st XV in 2019 so it came as a no surprise when he was selected for the Border Academy team at the 2019 Craven Week. Known for his high work rate, the stocky hooker has often caught the eye with his attacking flair, passing skills and excellent ball handling. He was named the Queen’s College captain for 2020 and was in line to succeed as the Border Craven Week hooker for the 2020 Craven Week, which was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. He has chosen the Free State above other pursuers as he feels their attacking brand of rugby will perfectly suit his style of play.