Graham Geldenhuys epitomises the theory that hard work brings great reward, and the likable loose-forward from Cape Town has proven to all – and himself – that the acknowledgments will come when you put your mind to succeeding.
He came to The Sharks Academy at the beginning of this year and although it was a new start in a new province at a new structure, once he fitted in, his success story just soared.
“The change was tough initially, I didn’t know anyone and for the first couple of months, I just did as I was told – go to training twice a day, classes in the morning, and then I was selected to play 1st XV for Rovers in the Community Cup,” he explains. “I was also part of the Vodacom Cup training squad, although I didn’t get any game time unfortunately; that was the first five months or so.” He admits that he paid great attention to his academics, taking that side of life as an Academy student very carefully. “I put a lot of focus into my studies, I’d be here at 8 o’clock every day, then I’d spend an extra hour afterwards in the gym, even though I didn’t think at the time that I was doing anything special.”
The more time he spent interacting with his fellow players, so his friendship circle grew and he admits to enjoying the Academy life immensely. “It’s been a very enjoyable year for me, especially when I see the results – making the Under 21 side and almost on the bench for the Cell C Sharks XV – it’s been an exciting time for me.” Although this is his first year at The Sharks Academy, he is technically in his second year and at only 20 years of age, will be able to represent the Under 21s again next year which is important for the age group team’s continuity.
“The Academy has taught me that hard work pays off; they place a big emphasis on the fact that as long as you keep working hard, the rewards will come. There are guys in their third year who are only now seeing the results, and that just proves that dedication will eventually be rewarded – not every player is an instant hit, but for those who aren’t, it doesn’t mean they will never get there.
“Many guys go through tough times, especially being away from home, but it’s all about picking yourself up and keeping going.” His choice to come to Durban rather stay in the Western Province structures came about after his agent organised the move. “Province had offered me a contract, but I came here with high hopes and set my mind to really working hard this year.”
The fact that he gained the top results in the ETA First Year National Certificate In Fitness Course and the prized Student Of The Year award is testament to the fact that his hard work did pay off. Geldenhuys was named Student Of The Year after he excelled as an all-rounder. He received top academic results, has an outstanding work ethic and enjoyed improvement in his conditioning programme. He has great leadership qualities and has shown excellent playing performance on the field.
“I definitely feel that the hard work has been rewarded,” he admits. “I came here to make a name for myself and it seems like I’ve done that.”