Sharks prop Coenie Oosthuizen says he is relieved to be back playing after spending 10 months out with a knee injury.
Oosthuizen made his comeback from the bench in the Sharks’ win against the Golden Lions last weekend after a frustrating time out since he injured his knee against Ireland last year.
The 29-year-old tighthead expressed his relief at the prospect of spending time on the field rather than the gym.
‘Training but not playing for 10 months is mind-boggling, irritating and frustrating,’ Oosthuizen said. ‘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.’
Oosthuizen endured a nightmarish time with injuries last year, tearing his rib cartilage against Argentina before breaking his arm against Australia in Perth.
‘People have told me I was courageous to keep playing [against Australia]. I didn’t even know it was broken, but it was painful,’ Oosthuizen explained.
‘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.’
Oosthuizen admits that there were lots of questions he asked himself during this time.
‘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.’
Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images