“It’s been one hell of an experience”

Johnny Kotze has returned home to South Africa following the end of his time with the Ospreys and the centre says that the experience has made him a “better player and person”.

Kotze played the fourth and final game of his short-term loan on Friday night in Glasgow before heading back to Pretoria where he reported for duty with Bulls once again on Tuesday, ahead of being named on the bench for their pre-season game with Stormers this coming Sunday.

As his time in South Wales drew to a close, Kotze reflected on his experience over the last few months and it’s clear that his time with the Region has made a big impression on the 26-year old from Carltonville.

“I’ve really enjoyed my time as an Osprey” said Kotze.

“I really must say that everyone really welcomed me, it played a big part in me settling down. It’s been a great learning curve for me.

“What stands out is how humble everyone is. It doesn’t matter who you are, what you have achieved, everybody at the Ospreys has their feet on the ground. You see that every day when you have international players and Lions staying behind to help youngsters learn and become better at what they do. In team meetings, everyone has the chance to have they say and opinions are listened to.”

His final game was played out in wet and windy conditions far removed from anything Kotze would have experienced in his home country and when asked about the big differences between Super Rugby and the PRO14, he had no hesitation.

“The weather” he laughed! 

“The rain up here makes the game a bit different to what I’m used to back home. You have to play with a bit more structure because the ball gets slippery and more difficult to control.

“You look at tonight and both teams were making errors whereas in Super Rugby teams are free to throw the ball around a bit more as it tends to be better conditions.”

Heading back to Bulls, Kotze was clear about what he had gained from the experience and that he would have no hesitation in not only returning to the Liberty in the future, but also recommending the experience to his team-mates:

“The experience has improved me as a player and as a person, specially learning a new culture and way of life. Rugby wise, I’ve improved my skills and developed aspects of my game like defence given the extra focus there is on that in the northern hemisphere. 

“I’ll tell everyone it’s been one hell of an experience. I’ve really enjoyed it and if I get the opportunity to do it again I definitely will.”