SIGNING for a new club and then seeing the coach who has brought you on board be moved on before you have arrived is a nightmare scenario for a professional rugby player. Fortunately for Glasgow Warriors summer recruit Sintu Manjezi, the man who has been brought in to replace Danny Wilson in the Scotstoun hotseat is a familiar face.

The 27-year-old back-five forward, who moved from the Bulls of Pretoria to the west coast of Scotland this summer, played under Franco Smith at the Cheetahs during the 2018-19 season and speaks highly of the coach.

“He’s a very hard coach, a very determined coach,” said Manjezi. “He brings the best out of players as he’s right on the detail and expects you to be on your detail too.

“The sessions [at Glasgow since Smith’s arrival at the start of August] have been tough, and we’ve been a bit flustered – but when the boys come together, and we get the detail right, I think his structures can come out.

“It’s good to have worked with a coach before and to have that relationship. He knows my abilities and things like that from the Cheetahs. But I also know how hard he can be on me! So, it’s a win-win kind of situation.”

Pre-season has been extra demanding for Manjezi who has managed just three games and 94 minutes of competitive rugby since suffering a serious cruciate ligament injury in January 2021. He believes he is now back to his best and is raring to go. 

“Coming off a significant injury, it’s been good to get a pre-season under my belt,” the 6ft 6ins back-five forward said. “That sets the foundation for how the season will go so I’ve been training hard and hopefully I can bring that energy into the season.  

“For me, it’s about giving my all to the team wherever they need me to be,” added Manjezi, who was set to play in the back-row for Glasgow in their now cancelled pre-season friendly against Worcester in Inverness. 

Smith is not the only familiar face at Scotstoun for Manjezi, with new club captain Kyle Steyn an old pal from home who he is now lodging with until he finds a base of his own.

“It won’t be forever as he’ll want his space,” promised Manjezi. “I’ve been looking around and hopefully I can get something sorted soon. Me and Kyle played together at the Griquas in Kimberley so that’s when we met up.

“Kyle just got married. Well, he got married during Covid and they had to cancel the wedding so they had it recently. I did say it was maybe weird for me to be moving in with him at this time, but he did promise me the honeymoon period was over! I’ve got nothing to worry about he said. Although I’ve got a good pair of ear-pods to sort myself out just in case!

“I won’t lie, the accent does get you a bit,” he replied when asked how he is coping in a new city. “Everyone seems to speak really quickly and underneath their breath. Otherwise, the boys have been really welcoming and have helped me out with what I need. It’s not been a culture shock. I’ve fitted in and all the foundations we have here are what I live by, so it’s about enjoying the experience.

“I’ve been here before in the URC so I know how European and UK rugby is,” he added. “It was an opportunity for me to experience something new, something out of my comfort zone. I’ve always wanted to travel the world and play rugby. So, this was a great opportunity to mix learning something new in a new culture and playing in the UK.

“Before I went to my previous team there had been some talks about me coming here but at the time I felt going to the Bulls would be better for me. But then Danny spoke to me again and I just felt that at this age I had done everything I needed in South Africa, and it was time for me to experience something new.”

Manjezi also played cricket at representative level in his youth, before opting to concentrate on rugby during his final year of high school.

“My brother and father always said to play them as hard as you can and then make a decision, so in my last term I had a cricket offer and a rugby offer and that’s when I sat down with the people that support me,” he explained. “My cricket offer was from the Warriors, the team based in Port Elizabeth representing the Eastern Cape, but I decided to go the rugby route.”

“I’m a pace bowler and a tail-end batter,” he added. “I’ve not had any offers to play here yet and I don’t know if you can get much cricket in with the Scottish weather! It has been good since I got here – maybe the South Africans here brought our weather with us – although I’m sure in the depths of winter I’ll be missing the sunshine at home!”