Your decision to sign with Racing Metro must have been a tough one. What were the key factors that made up your mind?
A: Big decisions such as this one are never easy, but I decided to take this opportunity as I would love to experience a different culture, on the field and away from it, work on certain aspects of my game, and, as the World Cup will be played in the Northern Hemisphere, give myself the opportunity to get used to the playing conditions over there while pushing for a place in the squad.
There are a lot of South Africans playing in France and it is obviously a strong league. Do you believe playing in those conditions will improve your game and are there any particular areas you’re looking to improve in?
A: Yes, I do think so. One area which I can still improve in is my tactical kicking and as it’s vital to be able to kick well in those conditions, I think I will definitely benefit from moving to France.
Were any players influential in your move?
A: I chatted to Bernard le Roux and Francois van der Merwe, Flip’s brother, about playing over there and both of them recommended it highly.
You were in France last year with the Springboks, what were the main attractions for you?
A: Paris is obviously a magnificent city and I’m looking forward to getting to know it much better, but the main thing is the rugby and I’m going to work very hard to make my move to Racing a success.
You were something of a schoolboy prodigy. Tell us about your early days and who was the most influential person in your boyhood career?
A: My earliest memories involve rugby so I started playing when I was still very young. Two people have made a massive difference in my rugby career and also my life. One is my dad, who always supports me and gave me the best possible chances in life. And the other is Mr Basson from Burgersdorp Primary School. He made the very important decision to move me from flank to flyhalf and started moulding me into what I am today. And then it was very enjoyable being at Grey College, where you can just live for rugby and wearing their jersey was always a highlight for me.
Do you have any role-models as a flyhalf?
A: I think Jonny Wilkinson was the most complete flyhalf. But comparing yourself to other flyhalves, which happens constantly in South Africa, creates pressures that I don’t need. I’m not going to change my natural game because that’s what got me picked and Heyneke’s always saying that too. I have to keep working hard and trust myself.
You’re just 21 years old and already playing international rugby, how special does that feel?
A: Just like all players, it was my ultimate goal to represent my country at the top level one day. But I’m just trying to stay humble and be grateful for everything I do. I was the youngster coming into the Springbok squad and I was all ears, learning as much as I could.
Apart from rugby, what hobbies do you have?
A: I really enjoy Golf and horse-riding and I also go hunting quite a bit. While I was injured last year, I had to keep myself busy and I spent a lot of time at a farm in Bloemfontein riding and grooming horses.
After making your debut in 2012, you missed most of 2013 because of injury, how frustrating was that?
A: It was disappointing not to play any Test rugby last year, but I was privileged to go on the tour to Europe in November and that was a great experience, I really learned a thing or two.