Willem Alberts is confident he’ll be in top shape by the time the Boks kick off their World Cup campaign against Japan on 19 September, writes CRAIG LEWIS.
After an injury-disrupted year, which saw Alberts miss a large part of the Vodacom Super Rugby season and all of the Rugby Championship, the big flank made his comeback against Argentina on 15 August.
At the Boks’ World Cup squad announcement last Friday, he admitted it had been a relief to get some game time under the belt.
‘A couple of months back I was stressing a bit about all my niggles and injuries, but thankfully I’ve managed to work my way back to fitness and was able to play in that game against Argentina. It went quite well, and although I’m not quite yet at full fitness, we’re going to train well over the next couple of weeks and I’m confident I’ll be 100% fit and ready to go for the first game of the World Cup.’
Although Alberts said his injury problems had been a source of frustration, he also suggested they might have been a blessing in disguise.
‘I had a back injury last year and had a small operation. That created some other problems. I then struggled with my hamstring a bit, and that was a concern. In the last Super Rugby game against the Stormers I had an ankle injury, but I’m grateful that’s all in the past now.
‘Even if you play every game, or not even one, there’s no guarantee that you’re going to make the squad. You can pick up an injury at any time, and although I want to play in every game, sometimes it’s just not possible. Maybe things happened for a reason. I played a lot of rugby last year, and being able to rest the body a bit before the World Cup is probably a good thing.’
Having completed a long road to recovery, it now remains to be seen whether Alberts will be able to perform at the peak of his powers at the World Cup.
‘I think if you’ve been playing for a long time, you can find that balance [to your game] quite quickly. You just need to be medically fit and then you can build up the percentages to get into a good playing condition.’
Photo: David Rogers/Getty Images