Quick tap with Salmaan Moerat

PUBLISHED: April 25, 2024

Our captain speaks on his leadership style, playing rugby during Ramadaan and his love of fish and chips.

How has your return from injury gone? Mentally do long-term injuries help you appreciate your time in the jersey even more?

My return to play has gone well, I think what helped was the way the coaches managed my playing minutes. Initially I played off the bench, which helped me get back to full match fitness. It also took away some of the pressures of captaining the team at first. Having been out for such a long time the real focus was just to play well and once I became more confident I got the captain’s armband. Long-term injuries do take a toll on you mentally, but the support of your family does help. The road to recovery can become very lonely, you are all by yourself and follow an individualised programme so you are very isolated from the team. But I must say it was a very productive journey for me.

You recently bought a house, has everything gone smoothly?

We recently purchased a house, it is something that we are very excited about. My wife is expecting, so these are exciting times for us and now more than ever we need a bigger space. We haven’t moved in officially yet, the contractors are still busy but as soon as those things are done we’ll get settled in.

How do you manage to play in a high performance environment while fasting during Ramadaan? Does it take a special mindset?

Playing rugby during Ramadaan does come with its own challenges. Physically as we all know it is very demanding. It does take a particular mindset, the most important thing is probably your planning around your nutrition, what you will eat, how you hydrate yourself and what you will do in the gym. At the same time it is a time that I really enjoy playing rugby, as crazy as it might sound. It is the time that I feel most energised because your mindset is on a different level. I feel stronger mentally and physically. Don’t get me wrong it does take its toll on your body which is completely normal, but spiritually and mentally your mindset is so much stronger.

Your family and community are important to you, how much of a motivation is it for you to represent them?

It is always special to represent my family and the broader community. It is well documented that many members of my family represented South Africa during isolation, so me being in the position I am in today is a chance for them to live their dreams through me. That makes it so much more special, but at the same time I am also writing my own story which is something I am really excited about. I have spoken about my father and what it means to him, so all of these aspects make it even more special to keep doing what I am. They are probably the people that keep me grounded, they are very honest around my game and what I need to work on. For my community it is special to see someone who grew up among them play for the DHL Stormers. I think for them it is something to aspire to and it is a massive responsibility on me to make them proud and be an example.

The DHL Stormers squad is incredibly diverse with a lot of strong characters. How have you found your leadership role as captain? It must be quite challenging at times.

I’m really enjoying my role as captain, I think I have grown so much. I started out as a very direct, uncompromising captain. I have learned so much about utilising the players around me. Leadership at the moment is a lot simpler for me, we have a very experienced group of players including World Cup winners. For me, the key is to play well and delegate where I need to. One of the biggest lessons I have learned is to keep quiet when it is not necessary to speak.

What is one thing you cannot do without that people might be surprised to know about?

The one thing I cannot go without is having a fish and chips parcel from a proper fishery wrapped in newspaper or white paper once a week.