JOHANNESBURG – Ruan Dreyer has unfinished business in South Africa. It is the reason he decided to return to Joburg and the Lions after only a few months playing for Gloucester in England.
“I want to play for the Springboks again,” said the 29-year-old tighthead prop. “I’m still young and there are some goals I still want to achieve and being at the Lions is going to give me my best chance of achieving those goals.
“I know I first need to play for the Lions and then deliver the goods, but hopefully the Bok door stays a little open and I get a chance to wear the green and gold again.”
When Dreyer won his four Bok caps in 2016 he was the best No 3 in the country and the anchor of a Lions scrum that dominated everyone in front of it.
A string of injuries and a change at the top table of the Springboks at the end of 2017 left Dreyer some places back in the queue for the Bok No 3 jersey.
Frans Malherbe, Trevor Nyakane, Vincent Koch and even Thomas du Toit emerged as the tighthead options under Rassie Erasmus.
Dreyer then followed his former Lions coach Johan Ackermann to Gloucester after the 2018 Super Rugby season, but after playing only a handful of games in two seasons (mainly because he’d been struck down by various injuries) the quiet tighthead opted to return to the place he calls “home”.
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“I enjoyed my time in England, made some good friends and saw some wonderful places, but I always felt there was something missing,” said Dreyer. “And when I drove into Ellis Park for the first time this last Monday I knew I’d made the right decision to return. It felt like I’d only been away for a weekend, and it felt good.”
After returning to Joburg a few weeks ago, Dreyer and his family first had to do a period of quarantine, because of the coronavirus, before he could meet up with his teammates on Monday.
“We came out of quarantine at the weekend after spending two weeks in a hotel. It was tough but at least we had decent sized rooms, especially with the little one growing up so quickly,” said Dreyer. “It’s good to be out of the hotel and back to some sort of normalcy.”
The desire to play for the Boks again wasn’t the only reason Dreyer considered a move back to South Africa, but also the uncertainty about the future – because of the spread and threat of Covid-19.
“Who knows what the future holds? There was no guarantee of staying employed overseas. I have friends and family here and they mean a lot to me,” said Dreyer.