Why Lions flank Vincent Tshituka is not looking back

Vincent Tshituka of the Lions during the Super Rugby match between Emirates Lions and Jaguares at Emirates Airline Park on March 09, 2019 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Vincent Tshituka of the Lions during the Super Rugby match between Emirates Lions and Jaguares at Emirates Airline Park on March 09, 2019 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Image: Wessel Oosthuizen/Gallo Images

Vincent Tshituka ditched the quick step for the side step and he’s not looking back.

By canning the ballroom dancing for rugby‚ the Lions flanker is operating in a sphere less littered with glitter‚ but he’s not missing the shiny shoes.

Tshituka who made his Super Rugby debut against the Jagueres last Saturday‚ said when he is dancing these days it’s more casual and when he’s out with friends.

“I used to dabble a lot in dancing‚" Tshituka said.

"In primary school I used to do ballroom dancing.

"When I got to high school I did a lot of hip-hop. I danced with a couple of friends in competitions in grade nine.

"Then I started focusing more on my rugby in grades 10‚ 11 and 12.”

It is fair to say Tshituka’s path to professional rugby is hardly worn.

He was born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo‚ only started playing rugby in grade eight‚ matriculated at Northcliff High School and used to handle the rugby ball like a loaf of bread.

“I moved to flank in grade nine. In grade 10 I moved to four lock.

“I also played lock for the Lions’ academy. From u19 I moved back to flank. Now I’m a fulltime seven.

“I wasn’t the greatest wing back in the day‚” he recalled.

I only managed to score one try in the season. I played A‚ B and C team on the same day once. I wasn’t one of those safe players. I’d play one bad game and I’d get dropped
Lions flank, Vincent Tshituka

“I only managed to score one try in the season. I played A‚ B and C team on the same day once. I wasn’t one of those safe players. I’d play one bad game and I’d get dropped.”

Being drawn to the game later than most meant Tshituka had tendencies that drove coaches up the pole.

“The one thing I remember playing u16 I used to hold the ball like a loaf of bread and I’d run sideways across the field with it. I did a lot of that in one game specifically. My coach absolutely lost his mind after the game.

"He said ‘listen‚ I can’t do this any longer. I can’t handle it. Just run straight. If you get tackled‚ so what.' I got emotional because I was just trying to do my best for the team.

“Ever since then I’ve never run sideways. He was tough on me but he was a great coach for me.”

The 20-year –old admits he did not expect to play Super Rugby this early in his career.

He made quite an impact against the Jaguares‚ leaving coach Swys de Bruin to gush afterwards.

“He was almost my man of the match.

“There were nerves before the game‚” admitted Tshituka.

“I also felt like I was in a safe community. I’ve played with most of the players before. I was trusted‚ I was in a good environment and I could just go out and express myself. Even if I had made a mistake or two the boys would still back me.”

Tshituka wants to leave a lasting imprint on matches in more ways than one.

“I want my trademark to be my ability to defend‚” he said.

“That is what I take the most pride in. I hate missing tackles. But I do want to be an allrounder and tick all the boxes when it comes to being a No7 flanker.”

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