JOHANNESBURG – While the majority of South Africa’s pro rugby players may have sore thumbs from pressing their PlayStation and Xbox consoles and others may have square eyes from binge-watching Netflix, Cheetahs loose-forward Gerhard Olivier has numb hands and sore fingers from all the woodwork he’s been able to do while locked up at home over the last few weeks.
Only problem is, he’s run out of wood, so he’s going to have to make a plan – like all South African men are expected to do in times of crisis.
Olivier, a member of the Cheetahs’ Pro14 squad has, like the majority of people around the world, been confined to his house during the Covid-19 pandemic. All sport has been cancelled or postponed, and for the rugby players around the world, it means they have to follow strict home-based training programmes and communicate with their coaches and team members via online apps like Zoom.
But, the down-time has allowed someone like Olivier to spend more time than normal on his big passion away from the game – woodwork. He’s made all sorts of things for his house – like head-boards, cabinets and “toys” for his daughter Karla (18 months) and even “manufactured” a dining-room table for teammate William Small-Smith.
“It’s something I really enjoy and maybe one day I’ll be able to have my own proper business,” said the 27-year-old.
“Right now though it’s just a serious hobby. I’ve got a couple of tools and like to play around with the wood. The good thing for me at the moment is I’ve got time on my hands to really get stuck in. Usually we’re travelling to Europe and back and playing most Saturdays and then on Sundays the body is sore and one doesn’t feel like it. The only problem is my wood is finished … so I’m not too sure what I’m going to do until the lockdown is lifted.”
Olivier, who grew up in the eastern Free State town of Ficksburg and later went to Grey College in Bloemfontein, said he took an interest in building things from a young age. “My dad (Gedas) was a teacher in Ficksburg and later bought a Glasfit outlet, so he was always busy with his hands. There was always aluminium lying around the shop … and we’d built things, and that’s where it started.”