The winner of the SA Rugby Women Achiever Award for 2019 is a receptionist at the healthcare wing of a retirement village in Hermanus.

Hele is renowned for bulldozing her way through defensive lines with impressive pace and power, and admits that it has been tough to see family visits being restricted at the village due to COVID-19, but she says this has made her role even more important.

“I love helping people in general, so it is a good feeling to know that I can be there for others during the lockdown,” said Hele.

“It is very sad knowing that the elderly cannot see their families during this time, but it is a rewarding feeling for me personally knowing that we are there for them and that their families know that they are not alone.”

Hele admits that the risks involved with going to work during the pandemic has forced her and her colleagues to take extra precautions to protect themselves from the virus.

“We follow a strict process to protect ourselves, which involves wearing masks and gloves and washing our hands and using hand sanitisers regularly throughout the day,” she said.

“When I get home the first thing I do is have a shower and then make sure I get my clothing in the wash, so I am very cautious.”

Despite having less time to train than some of her Springbok Women’s team-mates who are in isolation at home, this has not stopped Hele from ensuring that she maintains her fitness levels and remains in shape.

“I train twice a day, before and after work, and I have been following the training programme we have been given religiously,” said Hele.

“Obviously we cannot run long distances, and that has probably been the toughest part for me because I love running, but I have been doing shuttles in small spaces, and using water bottles, crates and even lifting my younger sister for weight training, so my training is on track.

“I have also been eating as healthy as possible because it is very important to maintain my weight and ensure that all the hard work I put in during the last few months is not undone as we are essentially preparing for the 2021 Rugby World Cup.”

The fact that she was named the top women’s player in the country last year has also inspired Hele to keep pushing herself.

“It was fantastic to be named the Women’s Achiever of the Year, and I plan to work even harder this year to improve my fitness and skills levels so that I can contribute as much as possible to the team,” she said.