Southern Kings centre Berton Klaasen is relishing his time in the team after making his Super Rugby debut last week.
After an eight-year wait for his first Super Rugby cap, following the start of his professional rugby career at Western Province in 2009, Klaasen’s dream became a reality when he received a starting berth in the Southern Kings’ opening match of the 2017 season against the Jaguares at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium last week.
“I’m really honoured. It has been a long journey for me to get that first cap last week. It was really awesome,” Klaasen said as he reflected on his Super Rugby debut.
“It’s been a long journey. It took me eight years to get my first Super Rugby cap. It’s all about remaining positive.”
Klaasen took a sabbatical from the professional game at the end of the 2013 after having made Cup and Currie Cup appearances for WP, where he focused on playing club rugby.
The 27-year-old then joined the Kings, where he has worked hard earn a spot in the starting XV for the side’s opening two matches of the season, forming a promising centre partnership with experienced Springbok Waylon Murray.
With the knowledge he is gaining from Murray and the attributes he brings to the game, Klaasen is hoping to make a positive contribution to the Southern Kings this season.
“I met Waylon in the Currie Cup, and he is just an awesome person whom I can only learn a lot from. We chat on and off the field. We even live in the same complex, so we are always communicating,” he said.
“I pride myself in my defence and my running lines, and I hope I can make a positive contribution to the team in those areas.”
Following last weekend’s 26-39 defeat to the Jaguares, Klaasen is confident that the Southern Kings can bounce back again when they take on the Sunwolves in Singapore on Saturday.
“There are no easy games in Super Rugby, every game is always going to be tough. We need to prepare well, and we are all excited. We had a review [of last week’s game] and realised we made silly errors which we need to fix this week,” said Klaasen
“We believed in ourselves from the get-go, but the guys may have been a bit nervous because it was our first game. I don’t think it’s because we only gelled towards the end, it may have been those nerves at the start.
“We’ve had serious talks and still believe that we can do better. We need to look after the ball more, that is where we will try to improve most this weekend.”