I had heard a lot about Jock van Niekerk over the years and when I came to Stellenbosch it was one of my ambitions to meet him. He had a long stride, a terrific swerve, and a hand-off like the kick of a mule. That's the best way I can describe him. So much so - and I am honest when I say this - when Stellenbosch played against Villagers and Jock came charging, I always managed to stumble before I could get close enough to try and tackle him; I knew he would make a fool of me as he did to so many others.
I once saw a fullback of renown dive in completely the wrong direction when Jock came at him, which goes to show how he could hoodwink anybody. To have tackled Jock was really an achievement to cherish.
Poor Jock - on the 1931/32 tour he played for three minutes before he hurt his knee irreparably. I felt guilty about it because I was the one who had passed the ball to him just before he was tackled.
That tackle aggravated an injury which was caused by a little bone which had broken off in the knee-cap and became lodged among the cartilages. We had been practising on board ship on the journey to the U.K. and had six balls on board. After the first practice we only had one left, and when our last ball bounced for the railing on its way to the waves, Jock ran for it with all his speed. He almost got there in time but ran into a ventilator shaft which caused the injury and which, in retrospect, put paid to his playing career.
I have no other words to describe him. This wonderful man, this prince of wings.