After spending the 2014 rugby season nursing and rehabilitating a knee injury, Jermaine Kleinsmith returned to action earlier this year. Kleinsmith played a crucial role in the Tuks Varsity Cup side, featuring as a regular in the starting 15 throughout the tournament. Perdeby chatted to the Tuks wing.
When did you start playing rugby and who got you into it?
I think I started when I was six years old. It runs in the family [because] my brothers and my dad were rugby players and it’s a passion. The culture and tradition here in South Africa is mainly rugby so you get exposed to [it] at a young age.
What has been your highlight playing for Tuks so far?
The highlight [was] definitely the win against Maties [the University of Stellenbosch] because they are the [rivals]. It’s always a huge buildup when you play Maties. All the guys were in it and I think we gave the crowd a good game.
UP-Tuks1 got knocked out of the Varsity Cup semi-final in March. What do you think went wrong?
I think it’s mainly the mental aspect. Mental buildup affected the whole game because the track record doesn’t show that we’re dominant over Pukke, not that they’re a better side than us. It was a mental battle and I think they wanted it more, so that’s why they won the game.
Varsity Cup is done and dusted. What’s next on the agenda this season?
Currently I’m playing here for Tuks [in] the Carlton Cup.
What are your short and long term goals in rugby?
I just want to finish my degree this year [in sport sciences], and my long term goal [is] definitely to become a professional rugby player.
What would you be doing if you weren’t playing rugby?
That’s a difficult one. I’d probably be studying something … like medicine because my brother is a doctor. My brothers are smart guys, and the thing is my family wanted me to study something [like medicine], but I couldn’t because my passion is sport.
How do you balance rugby and academics effectively?
I balance it quite well because the rugby sessions are mainly in the afternoons, so class will be in the mornings. [We] accommodate the classes before rugby. You first have to pass before you can play rugby.
What keeps you motivated?
I’d say definitely the dream to become a Springbok rugby player.