Where is former Springbok Joe van Niekerk now?

where is former springbok joe van niekerk now?

Where is former Springbok Joe van Niekerk now?

For many rugby fans, memories of ‘Big Joe’ van Niekerk will revolve around his impressive exploits on the field, with the blonde loose-forward dynamo featuring in 52 Tests between 2001 and 2010.

In 2002, he was voted the South African “Player of the Year”, while at domestic level he enjoyed prolific career stints with the Lions, Western Province/Stormers and Toulon in France.

However, after retiring from rugby in 2014 after winning the French Top 14 and European Champions Cup with Toulon, he navigated a fascinating pathway from rugby player to community leader of a healing sanctuary in Costa Rica.

His journey to the ‘jungle’ came after a period of self-introspection that originated from two years of relative solitude in France where he reflected on what sort of life he wanted to lead now that rugby had been left behind.

On his ‘journey to discovery’ Van Niekerk hired a camper van and travelled across Europe, but it was a life-changing trip to Costa Rica that led to him eventually buying a 25-hectare organic farm.

This farm was ultimately turned into a healing sanctuary called Rama Organica, but he explained in an interview with SA Rugby magazine that there were values from team sport that he had been able to use in his new vocation.

“You go from an environment where almost everything is taken care of for you. All you have to do is prepare your body and mind to win matches. You play in front of packed stadiums weekly and you are elevated to god-like status. So you question yourself when you’re out of that environment.

“You feel like a misfit. Some guys handle it better than others, but there are a lot who spiral downwards quickly because the transition is too hard for them, for whatever reason.

“Your whole identity is wrapped up in what you do. I had to ask myself hard questions. “Am I Joe van Niekerk, the rugby player? Or is there something deeper and more profound about my identity?” Obviously we are more than what we do. So it was a journey to understanding that I’m more than an athlete and that that is enough.”

New phase of life for Joe van Niekerk

After spending a transformative period in the jungles of Costa Rica, Van Niekerk – who will soon become a father – is now back in South Africa.

His partner Cato is from Belgium, so they will soon head there for the berth, before planning to return to Cape Town at the end of the year.

Despite entering a new chapter of his life, Van Niekerk’s website outlines how he will continue in his role as a life coach, body practitioner and holistic health mentor.

“I’m passionate about empowering you with the right tools to regulate your nervous system, break unhealthy patterns that aren’t serving you and healing childhood related wounding — so you can be free, happy and at peace in the present moment.

“I’m here to uplift others and be part of a world that inspires healing, growth, expanding consciousness and inner transformation.”

Giving back to the game

In another interview with Habari Media, the 43-year-old also highlighted how his ‘true love’ involved with bigger groups – and teams.

“My real passion lies within sport, so I see this as potentially a new role within rugby. Rugby players have to perform at a high level, week after week, and my dream is to be a coach and health mentor to these players.

“I would look at the human being, not the rugby player, and how his performance would improve if he was in a good space in his personal life. I would connect with each player individually and give them a safe space or haven where they can put whatever they want on the table. They would come into that space as a human being, and not have their rugby persona or identity be the main thing, or be told to be tough and strong.”

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