New Springbok Kurt-Lee Arendse wants to wing it and make mentor Chester Williams proud



Published Jul 8, 2022


Bloemfontein - Springbok legend Chester Williams will surely be smiling down from heaven tomorrow when his protege Kurt-Lee Arendse makes his debut for South Africa in Bloemfontein against Wales.

The promotion of the electric Bulls winger to the Bok No 14 jersey completes a dream season for the speedster, and at the Bok hotel in Bloem this week he said he would not be there if it was not for Williams, the 1995 World Cup hero who died suddenly in 2019 at the age of just 49.

Arendse grew up in the Lantana neighbourhod in Paarl, not too far from where Williams lived.

He will become the second Springbok produced by Paulus Joubert Secondary school, after the late Tinus Linee, Williams’ very good friend. Blitzboks Renfred Deysel also attended Paulus Joubert

“It all started for me in 2016 when Chester gave me a chance at UWC (University of the Western Cape),” the 26-year-old said. “I knew everything about Chester, we come from the same town, and I was so grateful when he took me under his wing.

“He taught me a lot about rugby and life and I consider it an honour to have been coached and mentored by him.”

Arendse was on fire in the 2018 Varsity Cup Sevens tournament and after being voted MVP, he was invited to join the South African Rugby Sevens Academy in December 2018. And after starring for UWC in the 2019 Varsity Cup, Arendse was picked for the Blitzboks squad for the Vancouver Sevens, and he made his debut in their 31-12 Cup semi-final victory over Fiji.

But his ambition was to play for the Springboks and he admits that he had thought it was a forlorn hope for a time.

“There was a stage when I was tempted to give up my rugby career but then I looked at guys like Cheslin (Kolbe) and Gio (Aplon) and I thought ‘yissus, if they can do it, I can do it’. They inspired me to keep going.”

His break, of course, came in 2020 when Jake White brought him to the Bulls, and his career took off like a rocket.

“When I first joined the Bulls I was helped a lot by Cornal Hendriks, who also came from a Blitzboks background, “Arendse said. “He is obviously very experienced and he helped me adjust.

“Sevens has excellent systems and I learned a great deal with the

Blitzboks and thankfully the systems at Fifteens are not vastly different.”

Arendse was soon scoring scorching tries for the Bulls but it was in this year’s United Rugby Championship (URC) that he played his way onto Jacques Nienaber’s radar.

In March, he was voted the URC Player of the Month. His citation read: “His attacking threat has helped the Bulls climb up the ladder but his underrated ability is creating for others and not just finishing. His line-breaks have led to multiple try assists and he gets the team on to the front foot each time he touches the ball.”

And now he is poised to make his debut for the Springboks and he admits that he is very nervous.

“To be honest I did not think it (Bok selection) would come this quickly but I am really thankful for the opportunity from coach Jacques. I got nervous when I heard I was picked and I still am, but I am just so happy to be on this next stage of my career.”

IOL Sport