An All Blacks hopeful from a family of Springboks makes his Super Rugby debut

An All Blacks hopeful from a family of Springboks makes his Super Rugby debut

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Hurricanes rookie Jordi Viljoen’s upbringing is a who’s who of rugby’s biggest names and teams.

Having missed selection in the team’s official squad for the 2024 season, the 20-year-old was thrust into the starting unit for the opening round as Cam Roigard returned from injury off the bench.

It will likely be back to regularly scheduled programming when the team’s halfback stocks are healthy, but having impressed in his pre-season minutes and scored a try on debut, Viljoen’s future looks bright.

“A lot of joy and happy emotion getting to run out for my first time,” The youngster told RNZ. “Starting as well, you never really expect it on debut and just super grateful.

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“Very special for my family, especially Dad playing for the same club. Everyone stayed up late to watch the game, so super happy.”

In addition to donning the Hurricanes yellow, Jordi’s dad, Joggie Viljoen, also made three appearances in Springboks colours, following in the footsteps of his father Joggie Viljoen Snr.

The Viljoen family continues to produce class halfbacks, but also surround themselves with the world’s best.

At the Hurricanes Jordi has Roigard and TJ Perenara to learn from, but through his dad’s time at Manawatu, he knows another All Black great.

“I always had a really good family connection with Aaron Smith.

“When Nuggy (Smith) was at Fielding Ag [Fielding High School] and Manawat? my dad would take him for training and we were really close with their family and we have a personal bond.”

With all these influences on his game, the recent New Zealand U20 product is conscious of absorbing knowledge while embracing his individuality.

“I just try and bring my own style to the game and don’t try and be anyone else. I just want to be the best version of myself.

“Having that connection with Aaron Smith and now being in the environment with TJ and Cam and seeing those players and having those connections, you just start to develop.”

With tight connections to both of the world’s most successful rugby nations, Jordi’s international dream is clear.

“100 per cent I’d love to play for the All Blacks, it’s been a dream ever since moving here. New Zealand has given me a lot and all the opportunities in terms of rugby and living a safe and happy life.”

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