In a game like rugby with its massive emphasis on physicality, FNB Madibaz centre Troy Delport has taught himself to tackle those sorts of challenges head-on.
The 21-year-old was rewarded for his commitment to the game by receiving the Player that Rocks award last week in their big win over Rhodes in the FNB Varsity Shield.
It was a feeling, he said, that he enjoyed and served as an incentive to keep working hard and give it his all on the field.
Delport grew up in the Eastern Cape town of Tarkastad and was educated at Cradock Primary and Marlow Agricultural, a school with a proud rugby tradition that often punches above its weight.
It was there that the Nelson Mandela University final-year marketing student, who loved rugby from the moment he was introduced to it, fashioned his philosophy for a physically challenging sport.
“I learnt that you could not carry a sense of fear onto the rugby field because if you are scared to make a tackle or scared to be tackled, that is usually when you get injured.”
Delport felt his strengths were his ball-carrying ability and defence in one-on-one battles.
“It is a case of just trying to lead by example and to let the way I play do the talking for me.”
Typically, as a young boy growing up in rural South Africa, Delport was exposed to a range of sports.
“I played a lot of sport when I was younger, including representing the EP Inland cricket team. I also became involved in tennis, athletics, squash, golf and swimming.”
But rugby, which he said helped him in many ways with life off the field, was the sport that stuck.
He admitted that he still had much to learn as he eyed a possible career in the sport.
“I would like to go as far as I can and, for now, at least play another year of Varsity Shield or Cup. I just need to keep working hard and believe in myself.”
Delport felt he had matured a great deal since first turning out, albeit “only for five minutes”, as a replacement for Nelson Mandela University in 2020.
“I have really grown a lot as a player under coach David Manuel; he is honestly the best I have worked with. He has helped me improve on the field as well as in the way I approach training.
“I think an area that I can concentrate on is just to stay cool and calm when things get difficult, but I have already grown in that aspect, thanks to him.”
Madibaz have two crunch games remaining, both at home, when they play University of Fort Hare on Thursday (4pm) and log leaders University of Western Cape next week (4pm).
The Gqeberha outfit are second on the log and Delport said they realised the significance of the remaining fixtures.
“We put ourselves in a tough spot with the loss against CPUT (Cape Peninsula University of Technology). We need to bring our A game for the last two matches to ensure we have a chance of ending on top of the log.”
They had worked hard and believed in themselves throughout their campaign, which he felt was a big part in helping them achieve their goals.
The top four teams on the log at the end of the Varsity Shield round-robin programme will qualify for the semifinals, which will be played on April 6.