It was “love at first sight” when the big forward introduced himself to the Wallamba Bulls’ rugby union coach, Lee Sullivan, midway through last winter. One glance was enough.
His name provided a clue to his nationality even if his secondary school education at Barker College in Sydney has almost eliminated his South African accent.
All they knew was that his 140kg frame blocked out the sunlight in the doorway of the Bulls’ dressing room.
He was a prop forward, who played loose-head for Northern Suburbs’ first grade team in Sydney in their premiership year of 2016. They called him Rhino.
In short time, Wallamba knew they had a special player in Christiaan Pheiffer when he came to Nabiac, recognising him as a match-winner in a position every rugby club prizes above most others – loose-head prop.
Quiet and modest and adamant he does not need the publicity, the father of three youngsters is now residing in Wingham where his wife, Cathy, is a veterinary surgeon with Wingham and Valley Vets.
MNC Axemen’s coach, Angus Anderson, watched the big man attentively in last year’s grand final, competing head-to-head against the Dolphins’ former MNC representative tight-head, Ben Manning, liking his technical skills and mobility, pencilling him in in his provisional Mid North Coast Zone Axemen’s squad for this year’s NSW Country Championships in Warren from April 27-29.
At last season’s Country championships in Port Macquarie, Anderson coached the Axemen impressively through the second-tier Richardson Shield competition to win their way for the first time into the first-tier Caldwell Cup this year. He dearly wants Pheiffer in his squad.
But the big man is unsure whether his family commitments and business plans will free him to prepare adequately for the carnival.
He certainly believes at 35 years of age and without any major injury, he will be available for this season’s Kennards Hire premiership as the Bulls defend the Lower MNC premiership they won for the first time in their history by beating the Forster-Tuncurry Dolphins, 15-14, in last winter’s grand final.
In the process, the Bulls ended the Forster Tuncurry Dolphins’ sequence of four successive premierships in the Lower MNC rugby competition.
The Dolphins began training last night (Wednesday) under head coach Ron Rae, but the Bulls will again be extremely difficult to defeat in the six-club competition.
Skipper and prop forward Aaron Gordon is expected again to lead the Bulls with hooker Daniel Sawyer completing a splendid front row. The Bulls meet the Myall Coast Mud Crabs in their first round game at Nabiac on April 7.
In the other games the Old Bar Clams play Forster Tuncurry at Old Bar and the Manning River Ratz are at home against the Gloucester Cockies at Taree Rugby Park.
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