Jasper Wiese has been named the Newcomer of the Year in the 2020/21 Leicester Tigers Supporters’ Awards.
Wiese made his Tigers debut in the opening round of the season and went on to complete the campaign with 20 senior appearances, earning the coveted players’ tie after the closing-day win away to Wasps in Round 22.
The South African forward capped off his debut season for Tigers as the club’s top try-scorer and earned selection in the Springboks squad for the first time ahead of the British & Irish Lions series.
Speaking about the supporters’ award, Wiese said: “It’s very nice, I am humbled by this.
“I haven’t had awards like this at the clubs I have played at before, so to get it is very nice and I am grateful to fans who voted.”
Looking back to his early days at the club, the 25-year-old admitted he did not expect things to “happen so quickly” for him in English rugby.
“To be honest, I thought I would come over and have to settle in and try to earn a chance to play,” he said.
“I never expected anything to happen so quickly.
“I remember speaking to Steve [Borthwick] before I came and him telling me ‘Things are going to change’ and, looking back, you can see what he meant.
“The last few seasons have not been good but the players are all in, we are all buying in to making that change and we are not done yet.”
Speaking about his inclusion in the South Africa squad, the typically humble Wiese quickly shifted the focus from himself to those who have helped him along his journey.
“It meant the world to me, of course,” said Wiese of the call-up.
“I had a few difficult years before coming to Tigers and the reward of that shows what you get if you put in that hard work.
“But, honestly, I can’t take all of the credit for it at all, it is all the people around me and who have supported me and helped make me better.
“I get to work with great team-mates every day who help make me a better player and have got me to this point.”
While proud of his achievement in earning a place in the ’Boks squad, Wiese is not settling for just a place on the training pitch.
When asked about what the goal was for the upcoming Lions series, Wiese quickly responded: “I want to start.”
“I will focus on working hard to get a start and making sure I am not settling because I have got in to that squad,” he said. “I want to start for South Africa.”