Hougaard heartbroken

2011-05-25 00:00

FORMER Springbok flyhalf Derick Hougaard­ is devastated that he will not be able to answer an SOS from the Stormers to join them this week as they head into the final stages of the Vodacom Super Rugby series after injuries to their leading flyhalves.

There were reports on Monday that Hougaard was in the Stormers’ sights, but the player himself confirmed that he is not fit to play after undergoing a third operation in a year — this time on his Achilles heel — and will be out of action for another few months.

Hougaard spoke to SuperSport.com about the opportunity, which came about through the Stormers twinning agreement with his English club Saracens, but said he is heartbroken that he won’t be able to take up the offer.

“I was shown the article this morning and I must say it is heartbreaking that I am not fit enough to play at the moment and that I am still struggling with the injury,” the former Bulls pivot said.

“The rehab process is very frustrating at the moment and I had to undergo a third operation, but I am confident that I am finally­ on the right track here.”

Hougaard, known affectionately in Pretoria as “Liefling” after catapulting himself into the limelight by leading the Blue Bulls to their 2002 Currie Cup title as a 19-year- old, was unable to negotiate a return to Loftus Versfeld from Saracens, but still wants to return to play in South Africa again.

“I told Saracens that I want to return to South Africa and that was one of the reasons that I didn’t sign a long-term contract with them [he signed a six-month extention last month]. The Bulls deal didn’t come off and that was sad for me, because I want to stay with one union in South Africa and give something back that I can be proud of.

“However, I am friends with guys like Schalk [Burger], Jean [de Villiers], Bryan [Habana] and Jaque [Fourie] and have played with them before, so if the Stormers deal happened at the right time, it would have been nice to play alongside friends like that.

“It also would have been great for my friends and my folks in the Cape. It would have been an exciting prospect.”

Hougaard added that he had not given up his dream of representing the Springboks again, but realises that things happen for a reason and are part of a bigger plan.

Perhaps after he finishes his time with Saracens, he will return home to play in Super Rugby again. There aren’t too many top-class flyhalves around and depth is a key factor. Hopefully his experience could go down well at one of the five Super Rugby franchises.

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