- Bulls lock Jan Uys candidly admits that his WP-supporting family took time to digest his move to Loftus.
- The 27-year-old second-rower is considered one of Jake White’s less fashionable signings, but the Bulls mentor has never doubted his worth.
- Uys “grew up” in a rugby sense at Brive in France, a team known for making players battle-hardened.
Jan Uys isn’t kidding when he says he’s a “born-and-bred” Western Province exponent.
He attended Paul Roos Gymnasium, played for Ikeys in the Varsity Cup and captained the Streeptruie’s junior teams before graduating to senior level in the Vodacom Cup.
So it’s not really surprising that his unexpected yet fascinating move to join Jake White’s Bulls was greeted with a bit of apprehension in the Uys family.
“I was definitely a WP man,” the 27-year-old said with a smile.
“It was quite an adjustment for them, especially for my father. I don’t think I’ve ever heard him shout for the Bulls before, until now.”
Even though Uys, an embodiment of a tough-as-nails No 4 lock, is arguably considered the most unfashionable recruit in White’s impressive, carefully-crafted signing spree of the past nine ten months, his role and subsequent worth is not in doubt.
The second-rower was a bargain buy but one with a burning desire to finally make a name for himself in his country.
White has previously wax lyrical about Uys being an ideal team-man and a player providing increased depth in the position as well as having vast European experience.
Indeed, most of his professional career has been spent in France after a move to the Southern Kings for more game-time ended with the franchise’s first liquidation in 2015.
“That time I was Under-20, and captain of the Under-21s, I could still have stayed at WP for two years. But then I thought it would be better for me to play more senior rugby, because there I was sitting below guys like Eben (Etzebeth) in the pecking order.
“It didn’t work out like that at the Kings, as they were liquidated. That is when I took the opportunity to go to France.”
A short stint at Pau was then followed by a four-year stay at Brive, one of the Top14 teams renowned for its physicality.
“I must say I grew up a lot in a rugby sense in France. You must be hard to play for Brive,” said Uys.
“In France itself, it’s not fast rugby necessarily, but it’s very physical.
“It’s almost like every team has locks of 130kg or 135kg, and sometimes even No 8s of 140kg. Then you have to stand your ground.”
That’s exactly why White wanted him for the franchise’s new chapter in Europe.
It’s now just a case of really putting pressure on the legion of talented locks at Loftus … and the current preparation series provides him with a decent platform to do that.
“I got a chance to come and play under coach Jake and it was a no-brainer for me. Now I am supporting a jersey that’s a slightly lighter tone of blue,” said Uys.
“I just have to work hard and there are a lot of small things that I can improve on. There isn’t one specific thing that, if I had to do that, then I would get a starting berth.”