JOHNTA: SWITCHING CODES!
Having grown up in 'The South', I wasn't exposed to Rugby League until my early 20's back in 2011 when I moved up to Hull, East Yorkshire. I quickly fell in love with Rugby League which led to me setting up GRM, and I am probably the only person in the World who proudly supports both Hull FC and Hull KR. Through Rugby League I have made great friends in both the professional and amateur ranks. Despite my admiration for Rugby League, quite the opposite can be said for an increasing number of players who are switching codes or switching sports, and to some extent you can't blame them. The RFU announced they are spending almost a billion pounds to improve the sport at all levels and Premier League Rugby Union players are finally receiving the commercial rewards football players have enjoyed for decades.
Johnta Nkonjera, 19, joins a plethora of youngsters switching to Rugby Union. The 6 foot 3 fly-half now plays Rugby Union for Hornsea Hollismen having previously played Rugby League for Hull Kingston Rovers and West Hull.
I recently caught up with Johnta to discuss switching codes in a little more detail.
1. You played a part in Hull KR's Academy and West Hull, what made you switch codes to union?
"At the time I switched from league to union I had just been released from KR and wasn’t really enjoying it as much as I had in the past so I thought it was time to try something new and see if I can learn anything from union".
2. Having played at a number of clubs, who would you say is the best coach you’ve played under and why?
" I have more than one best coach I’ve played under, Lee Goulsbra-Miller, Phil Windley, Gareth Brown and Terry Morgan. They’re the reason why the West Hull team I played for at 16s went so far that year. They’re all equally the best coaches I’ve played under and if it wasn’t for them I probably wouldn’t be playing rugby now".
3. What’s your greatest rugby memory?
"My greatest rugby memory growing up is winning the National Cup at U16s with West Hull. We were the first team to ever do it at that age so it was a big achievement for us and the club."
4. Who’s the toughest team you played against.
"The toughest team I’ve played against was easily Oulton Raiders in the first year playing in the Yorkshire League. I remember taking the first run in for West Hull and being hit by what felt like half the team and thinking - this is going to be a long game!"
5. If you wasn’t playing rugby what other sport would you be involved in?
"If I wasn’t playing rugby I probably would have given boxing a go"
6. Apart from playing rugby, what would your friends and family say you're most known for?
" Apart from playing rugby I think my friends and family will probably say I’m well known for being big and black haha!"