A lifeline for Sharks wing

2014-08-20 00:00

JUST one year ago, Sharks wing Tonderai Chavhanga was out in the rugby wilderness with a serious knee injury and was not sure if he would ever play again.

But thanks to Sharks director of rugby Jake White, he found himself in the Sharks set-up this year and began a long road to recovery.

“My knee just wasn’t getting any better and I thought my career was going to be over. Jake gave me an opportunity to make sure that I get my rehab sorted out here and gave me an opportunity to play again, it definitely is a lifeline for me,” Chavhanga told The Witness.

Fast-forward a year and he has been involved with the Sharks in the Vodacom Cup, Super Rugby and most recently in the Currie Cup, where he is beginning to look like his formidable and lightning-fast old self.

“I’m absolutely enjoying being back on the field. We’ve got a very fun environment that is based on work ethic and it’s great to be part of that,” the Zimbabwean-born wing said.

However, Chavhanga has to continually manage his injury and probably will for the rest of his playing career.

“It ended up being my knee cartilage that was the problem and it’s one of those injuries that takes a long time and even when you get better, I still have to make sure I do my recovery,” he said.

The injury is similar to the one that has plagued Sharks team-mates Frans Steyn and Jean Deysel. But despite that fact, Chavhanga is enjoying his time back on the rugby field, but isn’t getting ahead of himself.

“I’m making sure I improve each and every game and I’m actually feeling good again, it’s been a long time since I’ve played a full 80 minutes at this level and it’s a nice opportunity to solidify my position in the team,” he said.

Chavhanga gave credit to Sharks biokineticist Jimmy Wright, who helped him from a stage where he could hardly run.

“There were times where I felt discouraged and he would just give me some words of encouragement, which is at times what you need,” Chavhanga said.

“It was a matter of getting the pain away, I still play with pain now, but it’s manageable,” he added.

The ex-Springbok wing is now focusing on getting back to his best. His record-breaking six tries on debut for the Boks back in 2005 comes to mind.

“After being out for so long, it takes time for one to get going, in terms of game sharpness and that sort of thing, I’m just hoping it will come right,” he said.

With that being said, the wing is focusing on “getting more ball in hand” and wants to work harder on getting involved in the game.

“It’s just a matter of getting those opportunities and finishing, having that killer instinct again,” he said.

Looking ahead to the Sharks Currie Cup clash against the Cheetahs, Chavhanga said that they have always been a dangerous side.

“The Cheetahs have always had good backs; Raymond Rhule has been playing well, as has Ryno Benjamin. We will definitely have to be diligent in terms of how we mark them,” he said.

However, as has been a theme with the Sharks, they are more concerned about their own structures.

“More than anything, we have to focus on our own game, we’ve got a good side and we believe in our system,” Chavhanga said.


∙ At 30 years old, he is one of the more experienced players in the Sharks Currie Cup setup.

∙ Provincial unions represented: Lions, Western Province & Stormers, Sharks and part of Cheetahs 2013 Currie Cup squad. Also played for Welsh club Newport Gwent Dragons from 2011 to 2013.

∙ Springbok debut: Against Uruguay in 2005, where he scored six tries – which is a Springbok record for the most tries in a single game.

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