Rugby

COVID-19 Diaries Part 40: The introvert baker from Bloem

Toyota Cheetahs speedster Rabz Maxwane is itching to get back on the field, although he admits that the COVID-19 lockdown has reaffirmed his introvert personality.

For Maxwane lockdown has been quiet, although training has been keeping him busy, while he also tried his hand at baking – albeit a once-off – which left the leading try-scorer in the 2018/19 Guinness PRO14 competition pretty chuffed.

“Lockdown is definitely an unusual experience and I miss going to training and the gym,” said Maxwane, who matched the Guinness PRO14 season try-scoring record of 14 five-pointers last season in only his second year in the northern hemisphere showpiece.

“I am really looking forward to the day that we can start training and playing again because that is the only thing I am really yearning for at the moment.

“As a player one has to keep working hard despite the lockdown, so I bought a few dumbbells and I have been running in the garden to keep fit.

“Fortunately I have a decent space of about 50m to run, so I have been doing sprints, repeated sprints and a few other running drills, so I am well equipped in terms of what I need for my position as a winger.”

Being a self-proclaimed introvert, Maxwane admitted that lockdown has “verified” his personality, although he admitted it would be nice to catch up with his team-mates.

With a fair bit of time at home, however, he did venture into unknown territory by baking – and he was pleased with the outcome.

“I tried to bake a banana bread and it was amazing. It was proper hotel quality, so perhaps I could become a chef. There is no doubt that I passed my beginner’s test,” he chuckled.

Maxwane was humble about matching former Edinburgh winger Tim Visser’s Guinness PRO14 try record last season, saying: “It was hard work and a bit of luck. I really didn’t expect it.

“My objective every time I take the field is to give my best and improve as a player, but we do not have control over the results.

“That said, it was great to be around all the top players and coaches at the awards ceremony at the end of the season, and to experience that feeling.”

The talented 24-year-old has been enjoying playing in the Guinness PRO14 and said: “I have learned a lot and I believe participating in the competition has helped in terms of my game.

“As a winger you have to cover space, catch the high-balls and kick in space, and playing a lot has boosted my rugby.

“The conditions are different to that in South Africa, but that requires a mind-set change more than anything else, and when we play at home we stay true to our exciting running brand of rugby.”

With the 2019/20 season indefinitely suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Maxwane said regardless of what happens the key for the Toyota Cheetahs would be to kick off on a strong note when they return to the field again.

“I think the most important aspect for us will be to keep up the same energy and to continue giving our best,” he said.

“We started very well this season with three wins in a row and hopefully when we play again we can build on that. We had high hopes of making it to the playoff stages with a handful of home games lined up when we returned from tour.

“But we know what it takes to work our way into such a position and hopefully that will provide a good base for us to work going forward.”

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