Bok camp and bicep curls
Contrary to what some of my friends believe, playing professional rugby does not always revolve around glamour and glory.
When selection and performance are going well and your team is winning, you feel on top of the world. It’s all too easy to become oblivious to the reality that there is life beyond rugby, but once you are sidelined with injury, reality brings you crashing back down to earth.
You realise how fragile a sportsman’s career can be and are reminded how fortunate you are to have been granted the talent and opportunity to be able to play the game at professional level.
With the disappointment of missing the last game of tour uppermost in my mind, the trip back from Perth to Cape Town was a long, lonely one.
It’s an exciting time for the Stormers as the players are performing admirably every week. It’s at times like this that I realise how valuable the experience of actually being in the arena is. Now that I’m looking from the outside in, I appreciate more than ever, how worthwhile every drop of sweat has been.
In the midst of a physically and emotionally gruelling season, your thoughts don't stretch much beyond the focus on the game ahead. And trust me, that’s the preferable position to be in.
Travelling with teammates is fun; on one’s own, it can be boring. My six-hour wait at OR Tambo would have been a real pain were it not for Stick Cricket on my iPhone. I played for four hours straight before my battery died. I was delighted to find a power point at a Vodacom stall and another two hours of Stick Cricket meant I built up the skill to beat India by eight wickets in the Stick Cricket World Cup final.
After MRI scans and consultation with Dr Spike Erasmus, I am still uncertain as to where I stand with regard to my knee injury. Doc reckons it’ll be anything between four weeks and three months before I play again. It seems that determining the recovery period is akin to collecting feathers in a hurricane.
Doc Spike has performed many thousands of knee operations in his surgical career so when he says he is not sure how long this will take and that I must concentrate on taking it week by week, that's exactly what I will do.
I will now have plenty of time to work on my upper body and can resume the bicep development programme that my 'guns mentor' Eben Etzebeth set up for me earlier in the year. I can enjoy a beer on Friday evenings and watch rugby with Schalk Burger – a treat in itself – but nothing comes close to the thrill of doing duty on the battlefield.
I arrived at the High Performance Centre on Monday morning not at all excited at the prospect of a few weeks of rehab and no game-time. But Gio Aplon quickly rejuvenated my mood when he welcomed me back into the gym with his usual warmth and enthusiasm. Believe it or not, he now calls me ‘Blog’; it’ll be interesting to see how long that nickname lasts.
Deon Fourie, my roommate on tour, could not hide his excitement when I was packing my bags. He has a test this week, so the idea had been to study at least a couple of hours a day. The full extent of Deon's studying effort for the entire tour up until the point when I left added up to a grand total of about 17 minutes.
I’d like to assure Deon’s mom and his girlfriend Jean-Marie that it certainly was not my fault.
In an act of great bravery, Louis Schreuder put his appearance in the hands (literally) of Danie Poolman when he allowed him to cut his hair, because a haircut in Australia equates in price to a pair of Lacoste shoes in South Africa. When Danie had completed his work of art, Louis looked like he had been run over by a lawnmower. We are sure Louis’ girlfriend Lindy will get his hairstyle sorted out in a hurry!
The guys were delighted to be back home.
The first thing De Kock Steenkamp did was light a fire. A few kilograms of boerewors were consumed. Deon Fourie went straight to his desk to study for his test on Wednesday. Juan de Jongh went to the driving range in his valiant bid to reduce his handicap to 29. The team were wondering whether he was keener on reuniting with Gio than with his girlfriend Meggie. They’re quite a duo.
Louis Schreuder went straight to the hairdresser (we hope), and Deon Carstens to the casino because his wife was not returning from Dubai until Monday.
Watching the team play against the Force on TV was frustrating. Duane Vermeulen and I can now appreciate what emotions Schalk has been going through. But the boys did us proud yet again – in my view an excellent performance in tough conditions.
We have the Springbok camp this week. It’ll be fascinating to be part of Heyneke Meyer’s planning – and great to see all my teammates again!
Feel free to leave any questions or comments below, and I’ll tackle the best ones.