Returning to Action

It’s been an incredibly frustrating and tough 10 months for Springbok and Cell C Sharks prop Coenie Oosthuizen, but he’s now smiling at the prospect of spending time on the field rather than the gym.

Having come on during the second half of our Currie Cup match against the Xerox Golden Lions at JONSSON KINGS PARK on Saturday and playing his part in our 37-21 victory was incredibly emotional and exciting.

“Training but not playing for 10 months is mind-boggling, irritating and frustrating,” he explained after another tough training session in the lead-up to the match against Western Province this weekend.

“But as a rugby player you get opportunities to take those frustrations out by running into someone. When you’re injured though you can’t let off a bit of steam that way and when you’re at home sitting on the couch, keeping your mind busy is the most important thing.

“But our rehab specialist Jimmy Wright – who I believe to be one of the best in South Africa – pushed me hard, pushed me to the limit, to hell and back even.”

He’s back now after a serious knee injury sustained for the Springboks against Ireland in November last year and played a part in an important win on Saturday.

“I was actually very nervous running onto the field, not about the game but actually getting to play and making that first hit. But to not think about my knee and fortunately everything went fine. I actually got through the first 20 minutes of my time on the field without even thinking about the knee once which was good.”

It was actually a nightmarish time proceeding that knee injury for the affable prop as he explained.

“I broke a rib against Argentina in the Rugby Championship, tearing the cartilage on both sides. I sat the week out and then returned against Australia, still playing with the injury. But in the last 10 minutes of the game I broke my arm! People have told me I was courageous to keep playing, but I didn’t even know it was broken, but it was painful.

“I sat out the next six weeks, missing the final game of the tournament and in the first two minutes on the end of year tour, against Ireland, in the tackle I went over my knee and it made a clicking sound and I knew immediately something had gone terribly wrong.”

Three major injuries later, he admitted that there were lots of questions.

“I asked myself – why me – but I guess it’s fair to also ask – why not me – and I’ve been through it all and come back from injury every single time. That was my mindset during the difficult times, that I knew how to come back.

“So while it can be hugely frustrating when you can’t play, to be where I am now, a new beginning when I’ve missed the game so much, the excitement levels are at an all-time high.”

He admitted that there are no guarantees for himself, even as a Springbok, but he relishes the fight for game time.

“You learn to appreciate every minute you get to play and with competition for places in this team, you look forward to pushing yourself and the other guys in your position. That’s the way forward: in your quest to be the best, you must be happy with where you are and to be in a happy environment. And not need to bring someone down so you can get a step up. If everyone gets built up and plays phenomenally well, then the results will come and everyone benefits.”