Port Elizabeth – To do the same thing a hundred times over can be exhausting, to say the least, but not for Southern Kings lock, Dries van Schalkwyk, who this week will run out for the 100th time in the PRO14 when the Port Elizabeth-based side takes on Welsh outfit, the Dragons.
Coincidentally, the 34-year-old Van Schalkwyk will be facing the very same opposition he squared up against when he made his PRO14 debut seven seasons ago.
The Bloemfontein-born utility forward got his first taste of the competitive European competition shortly after joining Italian side, Zebre, in 2012.
“When I started off I had no idea of what the picture would end up looking like – I just wanted to play rugby,” Van Schalkwyk remembered.
“Seasons come and one grows as a player and as a person and you start appreciating the privilege of doing what you love each week. I never thought that one day I would get to a stage where I will celebrate 100 matches.
“My best friend is rugby! The game has given me so much. I just want to keep getting involved and to give back to a game that has given me so much.
Despite a defeat in his first match to the Dragons, the hard-working loose-forward-cum-lock never looked back.
“My first PRO14 match was against the Dragons when I played for Zebre in Italy,” Van Schalkwyk reminisced.
“I remember how I did not understand anybody at the time because they all spoke Italian,