Leicester powerhouse Jasper Wiese is renowned for never taking a backward step and walked away with just a tooth missing after he was hit in the face by a golf club… but his Christian faith and sister’s death means he’s very different off the pitch
- Springbok Wiese is the latest in a long line of no-nonsense Leicester forwards
- The 27-year-old is eyeing back-to-back Premiership titles with Leicester Tigers
- Fans love the way the rampaging No 8 puts the Tigers on the front foot
They like them tough at Leicester and they don’t come much tougher than Tigers and Springbok powerhouse Jasper Wiese, the rampaging No 8 who is eyeing back-to-back Premiership titles.
So hard is Wiese in fact, that in 2019 the only damage he suffered when being accidently hit square in the face by an errant golf club was the loss of a tooth.
Wiese smiles broadly as tells the story, his wide-eyed grin revealing the gap in his mouth which still exists today. There remains a need for dental surgery to resolve what happened.
‘I got hit in the head with a driver when we were playing golf,’ says Wiese, laughing loudly.
‘I was standing behind a guy when he teed off and he put one into the bushes. I thought he was done, but he took another practice swing and as he came back, he hit me in the mouth.
South Africa’s Jasper Wiese is the latest in a long line of no-nonsense Leicester forwards
The 27-year-old forward is eyeing back-to-back Premiership titles with Leicester Tigers
‘It was a massive accident. People always ask me if I lost my tooth playing rugby, but it was just golf – I got too close to the game! I’m going to get it sorted out now and get a new tooth!’
At a club which has produced iconic names like Johnson, Richards, Back and Cockerill – among others – Wiese is the latest in a long line of no-nonsense Leicester forwards.
The South African fits perfectly into the Tigers environment of hard work and sheer physicality.
He is right at home as he takes a seat at the club’s spit and sawdust Oval Park training ground. On the field, Wiese never takes a backward step.
Leicester fans love him for the way he puts their team on the front foot, rampaging forwards and swatting aside opposition tackle attempts like flies.
But off it, the 27-year-old is very different. He places a great deal of importance on his Christian faith. The death of his sister Maretha – who was killed after being hit by a Cape Town bus at the age of just 30 – means Wiese is well aware there are far more important things than rugby.
‘It’s a bigger purpose we play for,’ Wiese says. ‘It (Christianity) keeps you calm and brings a bit of ease that rugby isn’t the biggest part of your life. It’s definitely important, but it (religion) is also very important to me. I won’t say I think about my sister daily because otherwise I’d be in bits!
‘It (Maretha’s death) told me to play every game as if it was my last. Hopefully I have a lot more games in me but a few bits in my life are now put into perspective.
‘You can’t take anything in life for granted because it can all be taken away so easily.’
It is the ultimate irony that when arriving at Leicester in 2020, Wiese was nowhere near international rugby after a middling career in his homeland South Africa.
At Leicester, he has exploded to prominence and become a Springbok too. Wiese was man of the match in last season’s Premiership final as the Tigers claimed a deserved title.
Steve Borthwick (left) and Kevin Sinfield (right) left to lead England in mid-season, but Leicester have still managed to make the play-offs
On Sunday, the men from Welford Road will travel to Sale for a last-four clash. A win would ensure a Twickenham return and keep back-to-back league wins a possibility.
‘Leicester have always been known for a hard style of play. It made me excited to come here,’ says Wiese, who has made 40-metre breaks in a Tigers shirt something of a habit.
‘It’s a club with a really proud tradition. I try to bring an edge to my game but I don’t go mad or charge into walls! I tend just to chat about what we’re going to do. Then I get on with it!’
No wonder Wiese fits Leicester like a glove.
He will have to be a key figure if the Tigers are to get the better of Sale. Wiese laments the fact he won’t be able to take on his brother Cobus, who is with the Sharks but currently injured.
‘My mum and dad won’t be there but my brother will be,’ Wiese says. ‘He’ll probably be having a beer in the stands! My mother watches rugby, but my father doesn’t like it.
‘He had a bad experience growing up. A coach shouted at him when he was 13 and he decided he wasn’t going to play. It was as easy as that!
‘If he’d pursued rugby he’d have been an excellent player. My mother played netball and did athletics – our love of sport definitely comes from her.’
Leicester have defied the mid-season loss of coaches Steve Borthwick and Kevin Sinfield to England to make the play-offs and are a team in form.
Leicester fans love him for the way the rampaging No 8 puts their team on the front foot
With Wiese in their ranks, you wouldn’t bet against them shocking Sale.
‘The real business end of the season starts this week,’ he says. ‘It’s been an up-and-down season.
‘I’m in a very privileged position. I’ve won the league and been called up to South Africa – I don’t know how to count all my blessings. I don’t have enough fingers or toes!
‘These angels are working overtime! I hope my sister is looking down and can be proud of us. If she was still with us, I think she would be.’
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