Jaer eyeing 2020 Olympics
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Malcolm Jaer made his mark with lion-hearted performances for the Southern Kings in the 2016 Super Rugby season in which he stood out as one of the side's consistent performers.
The 21-year-old, who was playing in his debut Super Rugby season this year, managed to catch the eye of the national Sevens team which culminated in a call-up to the SA Sevens training camp ahead of the World Sevens Series and his inclusion in the SA Sevens Academy side that played in the Dubai Sevens International Invitational competition in early December.
"I remember when I got the call, I was at home in Uitenhage after the Currie Cup. I was at my old school, Brandwag High School, using the gym there when SA Sevens Academy Manager Marius Schoeman called," Jaer remembered.
"I was then part of the BlitzBoks setup for six weeks. It was an exciting and overwhelming experience. The first week was tough because I had not played any Sevens rugby in four years, and therefore had a lot of adapting to do. I really learnt quite a lot in that period and there are things that I can implement here at the Southern Kings in the Super Rugby season."
Although Jaer was not part of the BlitzBoks side that played in the opening leg of the Sevens World Series in Dubai, he was involved in the SA Academy team that fell short of securing the Dubai Sevens International Invitational tournament when they were beaten 7-19 by the England Royals in the final.
The nippy Southern Kings wing is hoping to continue working hard and producing stellar performances for the Eastern Cape Super Rugby side in the hope of remaining in the national Sevens selectors' radar and graduating to the BlitzBoks team.
Jaer has his sights on securing a regular place in the national Sevens side with a goal of representing South Africa at the next Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2020.
"I am contracted to the Kings until next October, and I am fully committed to the team. The Sevens have indicated that they would like for me to be part of their preparations in January. I am hoping that after Super Rugby next year I can get involved with the Sevens again, and hopefully manage to qualify for next Olympic team," he said.
"That does not mean that I want to put the XV-man game aside. I'm hoping I can do what guys like Kwagga [Albertus] Smith and Seabelo Senatla do – play both Sevens and XVs rugby."
For now, the former SA Schools (2013) and SA Under-20 (2015) player is focused on getting ready for his second Super Rugby season with the Southern Kings.
"The vibe and culture that we have going at the Southern Kings is great. We are also better prepared now than we were this time last year," said Jaer.
"The coaches have built a great culture and spirit of brotherhood. Even though there are a lot of new faces in the side for the upcoming season, we have spent a lot of time together and are learning a lot from each other.
"The coaches, especially [conditioning coach] Nadus Nieuwoudt, have been doing a lot of top-level work to make sure we are in great condition and are ready when the season starts. We are all looking forward to it. We will definitely not be an easy team to beat in the new season."