Published 21 July – Oamaru Mail
Dan Lewis has had quite an impact on North Otago club rugby since joining Valley in the second round. The talented English first five-eighth talks to Hayden Meikle
Q: How old are you, Dan?
Q: What part of England are you from?
I’m from a small town called Colchester, in Essex, just north of London.
Q: Has rugby always been a part of your life?
Yeah, I’m from a rugby family. Both my mum and dad are from South Africa, and schoolboy rugby is pretty big over there. My dad was sort of my first coach, so we’ve always talked rugby at home and watched it as a family. They support the Springboks as long as they’re not playing England. Otherwise, they’ve fully converted to the rose now. I played a couple of years in France straight out of school, at Oyonnax, which was a bit daunting but a really cool experience.
Q: How have you ended up in Oamaru?
Very luckily, really. I’m registered back home with Bedford Blues, where Colin Jackson used to be director of rugby. Colin also had links to Cambridge, where I played on loan last season. A guy at Bedford spoke to me to see if I wanted to keep playing over the English summer. I jumped at the opportunity. I’d met a few people who had done a similar thing, and I’d talked to Colin when he was in England. Ultimately, I just wanted more game time, so this was a great opportunity.
Q: Are you pleased you came down here?
It’s been awesome. Valley have been brilliant. It’s a fantastic club and a really welcoming team. I’m sort of the only import, so the only option has been to just get stuck in with how the club does things. Shane Carter and Mike Mavor have been really welcoming and helpful.
Q: Is Valley good enough to win the Citizens Shield?
I think we are, but I think just about any club is good enough to win it. Everyone can beat everyone. We were lucky to get that win over Old Boys a couple of weeks back, which I think did all the teams a favour in terms of knowing they can be beaten. It will be interesting. You’ve got to be prepared to try and beat anyone.
Q: Are you hoping to stay and play for North Otago in the Heartland Championship?
I’d love to be involved. It’s a great standard of rugby, and it would be another chance to put your hand up for future opportunities. For me, it would also be a great opportunity to see some other parts of New Zealand. It would be awesome to tour the North Island.
Q: Where are you working and living here?
I’m doing some part-time work at the Brydone. They’ve been really good at fitting in my rugby demands. I’m living with Brad McKenzie and Vinnie Smith from Valley. I’ve been really lucky to get to live with genuinely some of the nicest people I’ve ever met. It was an interesting place to be during the Lions series.
Q: Did you enjoy the Lions tour?
To be honest, I’m pretty chuffed, considering the way we started. A few people wrote off the Lions early, but they gradually built and built. It was a really good test series. I think we’ll probably be a bit happier with the draw. That’s just testament to the All Blacks’ standards.
Q: And your parents came out to follow the tour for a while?
Yeah, they’ll do anything to watch a bit of rugby. They actually live in Singapore now. They went to the Highlanders-Lions game and caught the Valley games either side. It was nice to show them around a bit.