Born and bred in Komani and donned the famous colours of Queen’s College, Simphiwe Matanzima has the world at his feet, and his rising star is just growing.
Matanzima is living proof that a person must not allow themselves to be limited by circumstances or obstacles in life, as proof of his comeback from a long-term injury and now will be contesting the Currie Cup final for the Blue Bulls against the Sharks tomorrow.
The 24-year-old promising Bulls loosehead prop’s inspiring journey took him all the way from Komani to Pretoria, to one of the biggest rugby union’s at the Loftus Versfeld franchise.
“In grade 11 at Queen’s College in the Eastern Cape, at that time I started losing interest in rugby,” Matanzima said at the time.
“You get negative once you go through something (a loss of motivation) like that. But my second team coach really influenced me to get my passion back for the game and start enjoying my rugby again.
“He reignited my love for rugby and everyone has an experience of this in high school. Some players will play A-level their whole life, from under-8 through to first team, but some guys are late bloomers. It is important that you really have passion for the game. Sometimes you just need to take a step back and find that passion again. If you are good enough, the cream will always rise.”
Matanzima caught the eye of the Bulls scouts, where he is part of the Vodacom’s Focus on Future Stars programme.
Last year disaster struck as Matanzima sustained a tear of the Achilles tendon during a conditioning session. This was after he was initially returning from a shoulder injury. The injury kept him on the side lines for 15 months.
It was great to see the youngster back against Western Province in the first match of the Currie Cup, although the Bulls lost that match 48-24.
“It was more a mental challenge than a physical challenge. There were a lot of things you cannot do, and you were alone most of the time,” Matanzima recalled.
“So, I felt like the one thing that helped me was to allow myself to feel it, you cannot run away from it. You know you are going to be out for a long time. You know it is a very serious injury, and things might go right, things might go wrong.
“So, you just need to allow yourself to deal with all those emotions. That helped me a lot.”
But that seems to be a thing of the past. The budding prop has been in great form for the Bulls ever since that opening game. He was part of the team that defeated Western Province in the semi-finals last weekend and is sure to be in the all-conquering Bulls team for the final tomorrow.