Rugby League star from Wisbech hoping to continue season of glory

A RUGBY League star from Wisbech hopes to continue his phenomenal season by leading St Albans Centurions to success in Sunday’s national play-off semi-final against Valley Cougars at Swindon.

Rudie van der Meuwe heads into the game against the Welsh Champions on the back of a storming campaign that he’s described as his best.

The powerful England international has been his club’s top try scorer this season and as a result has spent his second campaign with his adopted country’s Lionhearts select squad.

“I’m in the Rugby League form of my life,” said Van der Meuwe, who moved to the country from South Africa in 2001 and gained British Citizenship last year.

“It was special to get picked again because this year the selection process was much tougher.

“Not only is it a big honour for me to get picked alongside such quality players but it makes me feel completely integrated into the community as England is my home now.”

After switching from Rugby Union in 2006 Van der Meuwe has improved steadily at St Albans and played a massive part in the club winning the Southern Premiership of the Rugby League Conference and the resulting Southern Grand Final this season.

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He said: “We’ve started playing some very good rugby this year and have only lost one league game this campaign.

“We hammered West London Sharks in the final (54-4) and just clicked on the day.

“If we can do what we’ve done all year on Sunday and just play to our game plan then I’m very confident we can win and go all the way this year.”

The 32-year-old has worked hard this season with Wisbech-based coach Paul Merrell, who runs Merrell Speed Development, and believes his game has improved as a result.

He said: “I started working with Paul and he’s really honed my skills and sorted a gym programme that’s specific to rugby.

“Instead of me just getting big in the gym, I’ve been getting larger in the right way. I’ve never ran so quickly with the ball in my hand.”