Former rugby pro Ethienne Reynecke works out at WWE Performance Center

Ethienne Reynecke

Could former rugby player Ethienne Reynecke be the latest pro athlete to consider making a move from the pitch to the squared circle?

At the invitation of WWE officials, the 225-pounder from Johannesburg worked out at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Fla., on Tuesday and Wednesday, joining Coach Robbie Brookside’s class for ring drills.

No stranger to full-contact sports, Reynecke played the hooker position for 14 years in rugby leagues throughout South Africa and Europe. His decorated career includes stints with the Golden Lions (South Africa), the Stormers (South Africa), Saracens RFC (England), Section Paloise (France) and Connacht (Ireland). Reynecke was first put in contact with WWE officials after being approached at a rugby tournament in Bermuda by former Superstar and commentator JBL.

Since leaving rugby, Reynecke has turned his focus to mixed martial arts. Training under former sumo, judo and powerlifting champion “White Rhino” Mark Robinson, Reynecke has already fought in several amateur bouts. A lifelong WWE fan, Reynecke described his experience at the PC as “surreal,” and he praised the dedication it takes to succeed in sports-entertainment.

“From what I’ve seen here, it’s the same as rugby,” he said. “You start at the bottom and work yourself all the way up. It takes a long time before you get to the top, and a lot of learning.”

Reynecke isn’t the first rugby player to get an up-close look at WWE’s training ground. In January, retired English prop forward Eorl Crabtree was invited to observe a PC workout, and just last month Australian wing Daniel Vidot was one of 39 athletes who attended an official WWE tryout in Orlando.

Though it’s uncertain what the future holds for him in WWE, the double-tough Reynecke was optimistic that this won’t be his last foray in the ring.

“You never know,” he said. “I’d like to come back and see where this goes.”

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