Wolhuter: Injury made me a better person

Back and kicking for DHL Western Province, young flyhalf Kade Wolhuter says his nine-month spell on the sidelines has only driven his desire to be a better player. DYLAN JACK reports.

Wolhuter was 19 years old when he made his DHL Stormers debut, but a serious knee injury interrupted his progress and ruled him out of rugby for the better part of a year.

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Now fit and firing the 21-year-old played a starring role as Western Province opened their Currie Cup campaign with a convincing win over the Lions in Johannesburg.

Looking back on his time on the sidelines, Wolhuter admitted that the mental toll was far greater than any physical impact the injury had on him, but says it also forced him to mature.

“It was a nine-month period that I was physically out for. The physical side of it was easy, but the mental side took me a bit longer,” Wolhuter told the media on Tuesday.  “It’s been 22 months post-op and I am now finding that form again in the team. I didn’t get any URC games last season, but have got some this season. I love being part of it.

“For me, it was about making peace and stopping feeling sorry for myself. It’s the best thing to happen to me, because it made me appreciate the game more and want to be a better player. It was about accepting it and looking towards the future, putting my future back in my own hands.

“I came back a more rounded person, more than just a player. Now it’s about expressing myself, being given the freedom to do so, becoming less predictable and more of an attacking threat.”

Wolhuter slotted all five of his conversion attempts and three penalties, including one from over 50 metres, to help guide Western Province to an opening victory in the 2023 Currie Cup.

“It’s a great start. The ball travels much further up there,” he said. “It is a nice challenge, and it is good start to hit the ground running. I am feeling very comfortable, but I’m also excited to be getting more game time, especially as I have a whole campaign to look forward to.”

“It does a lot for my confidence. It has been a while since I’ve got out on the field, so to be able to contribute to the team, in my first game out, it does a lot for me going forward.”

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Part of a talented group of playmakers, Wolhuter is taking as many helpful tips as he can from the likes of Damian Willemse and Manie Libbok.

“It definitely motivates me knowing that to even get a look in, I have to really perform. Two of them are Boks and they have all been performing at a high level.

Western Province will return to altitude to take on the Vodacom Bulls at Loftus Versfeld, where Wolhuter will likely be able to face off against one of his childhood heroes, Morne Steyn.

“Morne is someone I have looked up to since I was in primary school. It’s a great challenge to play against him,” he said.

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Photo: Shaun Roy/BackpagePix

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