Stedman steadfast in his desire to be a Vodacom Bulls “Future Champ”
Throughout his successful time with the Blitzboks, to last year joining the Vodacom Bulls, Stedman Gans has brought a different dynamic to the world of professional rugby
During one of his first matches for the Vodacom Bulls, Stedman Gans said something out loud in frustration with the mistakes they were making. It was loud enough to catch the attention of Duane Vermeulen. And that’s when the Springbok and captain of the Vodacom Bulls gave the 23-year-old centre/winger a bit of advice he has never forgotten.
“Duane just looked at me and with a big smile said, ‘No man. Just relax’. I lost my head a bit and that was a big moment for me. He was so calm in the way he said it. I was so frustrated, but he could see that if we just did what we needed to do as a team rather than panic, we’d still be in the game. That calmed me down, and it helped to calm the whole team down as well,” says Gans.
It’s exactly this kind of wisdom from the senior players at the Vodacom Bulls that Gans is determined to soak up as he begins his journey with this proud union, and which is being showcased through Vodacom’s “Future Champs” campaign that is putting the spotlight on the next generation of Vodacom Bulls stars.
Throughout his successful time with the Blitzboks, to last year joining the Vodacom Bulls, Gans has brought a different dynamic to the world of professional rugby as a player hungry to learn from those above him, but also wanting to let his own personality shine through.
“It’s daunting stepping into a high-performance environment like I did with the Sevens team and now with the Vodacom Bulls. Luckily, there are experienced players here and the most important thing for me is to learn from them as much as I can.
“But I also believe strongly that as rugby players we should push forward and bring our own personality to the game. Rugby players in South Africa all try and fit into one box, but I think people would like to see who you are as a person outside of rugby as well.”
“So, I see myself bringing my abilities as a rugby player to the Vodacom Bulls, but also much more than that. I would really like to bring my personality and my past experiences to this team and put more of myself into the rich history of this team.”
His outlook perhaps stems from Gans’ learning early in life, to sometimes just do the best with where you are, even when you don’t always understand the reason.
As a young boy he moved from Vredenburg on the West Coast to Pretoria where he joined Hoërskool Waterkloof and his rugby truly took off. But at the time, he never understood a move he describes as “out of my control”.
“Moving was obviously difficult for me and at the time I didn’t see the benefits. But if I could advise any other young player in a situation like that, just make the best out of your current situation – whether you agree with it or not. Self-doubt is the hardest thing I’ve had to overcome. If you want to be a champion, self-doubt can never be in that equation. So, the biggest thing for me is to just grow that self-belief in my abilities.”
It’s exactly what he did as he rose through the ranks to realising his dream of pulling on a Vodacom Bulls jersey. And it’s a responsibility he takes very seriously.
“When I think of the rugby greats that have played in this jersey, I feel honoured to be able to wear the jersey and represent not only our team and squad now, but also those legends. I feel that responsibility when I sit in our locker-room at Loftus Versfeld, and see the photos of players who played 50 or 100 games for the Vodacom Bulls. I know those guys gave their absolute best at every single game and training session. I feel that whenever I put this jersey on.”
“I also know that the weight and responsibility adds up. The more you play and succeed, the more is expected of you. For me that’s always going to be part of it. People will always expect more, and I accept that. It’s a massive responsibility when you put on this jersey.”
Between the laughs and jokes, the absolute seriousness of Gans to take his opportunity at the Vodacom Bulls and make the most of it shines through when he gives the answer to, “I am the future of the Vodacom Bulls because…”
“Because I am mad about the Vodacom Bulls. I’m passionate about the Vodacom Bulls. I can’t wait to see where this proud union goes to next, and I’m willing to work hard to be part of that journey.”
With Gans recently being ruled out for three months due to an unfortunate ankle injury, what he has learnt from his life experiences will go a long way to accepting that this is just another “out of his control” set back that he will overcome in his journey with the Vodacom Bulls.For a man who admits he’s a bit of a softie and loves a romantic comedy, you get the sense that Gans and the Vodacom Bulls are in for a very happy relationship together.