If your name happens to be Salmaan Moerat, you’ve probably woken up some mornings, rubbed your eyes and thought to yourself: ‘whew, that’s quite a start I’ve had to my rugby playing career.’ Let’s look at the facts shall we? He played Under-13 Craven Week for Boland. He went on to represent Western Province in 2014, played 2015 Craven Week and was selected for the 2015 SA Schools team. In 2016 he captained Paarl Boys High 1st XV, the Western Province 2016 Craven Week team and the SA Schools Under 19 team. And um, he led them all to unbeaten runs. At the end of last year, while the entire country was heading off on holiday, Salmaan was tucking into some pre-season training with the Stormers. We caught up with him in between running up and down touchlines.
You come from a really proud tradition of rugby players as far as your family goes. You must have picked up some great words of wisdom from them. Anything specific come to mind?
I am lucky enough to come from a family filled with a rich rugby history as many members of my family played representative rugby during the isolation period. One person that always inspired me was my father, who played for SARU. He’s always helped me where he could and I will always appreciate that. He taught me that nothing in life comes easy – you always have to work hard for what you want.
Captaining the SA Schools Under 19 rugby side must have been a massive privilege! What was the experience like?
Yes, it was a huge privilege being able to represent my country and more so captaining the side. I learned so much during that time including just how professional the entire setup is. I got a really good idea of what is expected of us going into the future.
We’ve noticed that some of the Boishaai players run out with the letters ETFG written on their strapping. Tell us a bit about it.
In our Paarl Boys High team we stood for certain moral values and player in the team bought into these values. We decided to give glory to the Almighty who enables us to reach our full potential. ETFG stands for Every Try For God.
Which schoolboy rugby player do you think puts in the biggest tackles on the field.
It’s tough to say as a lot of the boys were willing to put their bodies on the line, but personally, I think it would be my good mate Manuel Rass.
You’re in the middle of a really tight game with just minutes left on the clock. Your team is 2 points down. What do you say to your teammates to keep them believing that they can win?
I think it’s really important to remain calm and have good body language. I’d tell the guys to stick to what they know best and to take full responsibility for their own discipline or position and to keep playing to the best of their ability.
If you could play just one last schoolboy game again against any team, who would that team be and why?
I think it would have to be Paarl Gimnasium. I don’t think there’s anything like it – the build up and excitement that goes with it is truly something special. It’s really a special occasion playing Paarl Gimnasium.
So many little kids out there aspire to one day be big, strong, fast and tackle like that Salmaan guy! You inspire them and they truly look up to you. But who inspires you?
Its very humbling knowing that kids aspire to be like you one day, but I am still very young and I’m still learning each and every day myself. The people that inspire me most are my mother and father. They really sacrifice so much for me so that I can continuously improve.
It is often said that rugby is so much more than just what happens on the field. How do you think rugby has added value to your life?
Rugby reveals character. Besides the fact that rugby teaches you to have discipline, it gives you the opportunity to meet new people and that really adds value to your life.
If you could play any other sport professionally, which sport would it be and why?
I wasn’t privileged enough to be very talented in many other sports so I’m not too sure If I would be able to make a profession out of other sports, but I do enjoy cricket.
Not everyone can play Eerste Span, Tweede Span or even Derde Span. What advice can you give to boys and girls who don’t play in the A teams?
I’d tell them that hard work always pays off. A player with a positive and determined attitude will have a good impression on any coach.
We’d like to have some fun by getting to know a bit about Salmaan off the field!
Is there anything you would like to tell coach Sean Erasmus that you could never tell him while at school?
I would just thank him for the opportunities he granted me during my time with him. He truly is a great man. During my time with him, I learned so much on and off the field and most importantly, how to be a good man.
Do you cry in sad movies?
I haven’t really cried in a movie yet, but I have felt empathy during a movie!
What nickname do your mates call you – where does it come from?
Moon. It was started by Manny Rass. According to him its Moon because its the English translation of maan in Salmaan.
What do you do that makes your mom cross with you?
Whenever I mess up my cupboard and she has to repack my clothes.
What’s your biggest ambition in life?
To one day be a good man like my father and love my family the way he does.
If you could have dinner with anyone, who would it be?
What’s your favourite quote in life?
If you judge people you don’t have time to love them.
Thanks Salmaan! Good luck in 2017 mate, we’ll all be watching you with great interest and pride.