Gerrit-Jan van Velze will be making his 100th appearance for Worcester this weekend, as he is set to captain the Warriors as they host Wasps at Sixways Stadium.
The South African has been a solid cornerstone of Worcester’s scrum throughout his six-year tenure at the club, and has also been influential in scoring, with 10 tries throughout his career in the West Midlands.
“It’s come by much quicker than anticipated, I’m excited.
“We do play a lot of rugby, but the games are getting faster and a lot more physical, there is more opportunities to be injured. I’m very lucky, this would not have been possible without all the support I’ve had. I think my wife needs to get a lot of credit for that.
And obviously there’s the backroom staff at Warriors, I’ve worked with some amazing people, and if it wasn’t for them, I would not have been fit to play all of these games.”
Unfortunately for van Velze, he sustained a head injury in the opening game of the 2016/17 season, which kept him sidelined for the duration of that campaign.
“I missed a full season, which was challenging in it’s own aspects.
“It was a tough time for me, but I came out a lot better from it. I learned a lot about myself during that period. I’m of the opinion that most players go through at least one big injury throughout their career, I just got mine much later than many other players.”
Arriving at Sixways in the summer of 2014 following at sporadic two-year spell with Northampton Saints, the 31-year-old has seen the club undergo major changes throughout his journey to the centurion appearence.
“The club has moved on massively, I had joined the club when it had just been relegated, and since that we have had a change in management, quite a few times. A lot of credit has to go to the players, they were forced into maturity, through circumstances over a number of years.
Credit needs to go to Dean Ryan in terms of the signings he made in that period. The club has grown in leaps and bounds.”
The season following GJ’s arrival, Worcester were successful in returning to the Premiership, yet since then, the Warriors had a tenancy to finish around the dropzone, with re-occurring league finishes in 10th and 11th.
Worcester are currently sat in seventh, and are set to remain in the Premiership due to Saracen’s automatic relegation, after their breaching of salary guidelines. Van Velze’s view is
“In all the years that I’ve been here, it’s never been in a players mind that ‘we should be looking down’ or that ‘we should be fearful of looking down’. It is always about striving to get better.”