After five months spent recovering from a broken leg, Muller du Plessis can’t wait to get in the Blitzboks huddle at the France Sevens in Toulouse next weekend. DYLAN JACK reports.
Du Plessis was named in the Springbok Sevens 13-man squad for the next two legs of the World Rugby Sevens Series in France and England.
The 22-year-old last played for the Blitzboks during the opening leg of the season in Dubai in November, when he suffered a serious leg injury in the pool match against Great Britain.
After the Blitzboks’ squad announcement in Stellenbosch on Thursday, Du Plessis expressed his excitement at returning to the field.
“I am very excited,” Du Plessis said. “The last time that I played was in Dubai last year. It’s been good to be back with the team again. There is a really good vibe and energy that I really enjoy. It makes me excited to play alongside my brothers and get out there and give my best.”
Despite the difficulty in recovering from an injury as traumatic as a broken leg, Du Plessis said his rehab process was relatively straightforward.
“What makes it easier is that there is a set-out plan ahead. You more or less know your timeline, how long the rehab is going to be. What you need to do is to put out small goals for each month and try to reach those. You don’t want to look too far ahead into the five-month period.
“The physio and staff we have came up with new exercises and they made it really fun. That helped the process so much.”
— Springbok Sevens (@Blitzboks) May 12, 2022
Du Plessis knows that running out in Toulouse will be very different to training, but says he is just focused on getting the basics right on his return.
“The game environment is definitely much different from the training environment. But I really believe that confidence starts at training and with your preparation weeks before a tournament. Going into a tournament, you definitely want to make that first hit and get that first thing right and then build on that. I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself. I just want to play my role, do what’s expected and build on each game.”
Neil Powell, who has also welcomed back veteran Branco du Preez, admitted he was surprised by how quickly Du Plessis regained his confidence.
The Blitbzoks coach said Du Plessis will be slowly phased back into action from the bench, but is still confident the youngster has what it takes to be a superstar sevens player.
“It’s great to have the experience of Branco and Muller du Plessis back. I was actually surprised by how much confidence Muller has got after his injury in Dubai. That was last year and he hasn’t really played any tournaments since then. It was great to see that he has his confidence back.
“We will phase him back into the action slowly and play him off the bench in the first tournament. I think he is capable of being a superstar in this game, so it will be great to watch his journey after this injury.
“The biggest challenge for any player being with a long-term injury like his was is probably more mental than anything else. That is what has impressed me so much about him, he has grown mentally so much through this process.
“He has done really well to fight that mental battle in his head as well. He is really a great player and mentally and physically he is in a very good space. It is now about getting his confidence back to perform on the world stage.”