The Wright stuff

2014-10-25 00:00

AS is the nature of rugby, players’ bodies break down and the job of getting them back to their best is left to the staff behind the scenes.

Our local lads who don the Black and White strip of the Sharks owe their rehabilitation and reconditioning to a dedicated and interesting man, biokineticist Jameson Wright or as the players call him, Jimmy.

Hailing from the small town of Coligny in North West Province, Wright spent his school years harbouring ambitions of being an astronaut, believe it or not, while excelling on the athletics track.

After being unsuccessful in his bid to become a pilot in the South African Airforce, Wright

enrolled at North West University while mainly focusing on his track running.

He completed his degree in human movement science and industrial psychology and got into the newly-formed biokinetics honours programme at Potchefstroom.

“I moved to Durban and joined the military on a voluntary basis. I started a facility at Addington Hospital and managed conditioning and rehabilitation with the army,” said Wright.

It wasn’t long afterwards when he started working with the Sharks’ walking wounded.

“Working after hours to pay back my study loans, I worked at a private physiotherapy practice. At the time Greg Mackenzie was the Sharks physio and started referring some players to me for treatment. I helped guys like André Joubert and Mark Andrews,” the 44-year-old recalls.

According to the Sharks biokineticist, there soon became a need for a sports specialist practice in Durban and Wright joined a number of other specialists in opening the Kings Park Sports Medicine Centre, which set up its practice at Collegians Rugby Club.

The Sharks took note and setup the Sharks Medical Centre, which is based at the gym next to King’s Park.

“They were the most advanced franchise at the time in terms of health care and I moved my practice there. It was half public and half for the Sharks players,” said Wright.

He became the fulltime biokineticist for the union in 2004 and his job was “two-fold in that I did rehab and reconditioning and got them back to a fitness level that was probably better than before they were injured”.

Throughout his tenure, Wright has seen most of his players back on the field successfully, although he acknowledges that it can be a painstaking process for the players.

“Sometimes I feel like a tow-truck driver pulling the guys along. I’m the guy you don’t want, but you are glad to have,” he joked.

On a serious note, Wright is often “flabbergasted” how players bodies cope with the demands of rugby.

“If you look at what they go through, there is hardly a guy who plays without some sort of a niggle and it’s like that everywhere.” he said. “In collision sports there are big margins so the guys need to play. That being said, we do our best to distinguish between injuries that you can play with and those you can’t.”

Despite this, Wright believes that the Sharks are one of the best unions in terms of looking after their players’ wellbeing, putting it down to “good formulas for managing players”.

At the end of the day, Wright is driven by the environment at the Sharks.

“I have a dream job. We work in such a positive environment with elite athletes who are willing to do anything to get better. It rubs off and my own life is positive,”he said. “I gym and run as hard as the guys and will never make them do anything I haven’t experienced myself,” he said.

It’s no surprise that Wright has no ambitions to leave the union, and is happy to keep on getting the Sharks players back to their best.

Wright on the Sharks’ culture:

“There is a relaxed focus which has been here for years. It works for us. We enjoy what we are doing but there is also a strong work ethic.”

Wright’s hobbies and passions:

He is an avid astrologer and likes to spend his holidays in the Karoo stargazing with his wife, Mandy. He is still involved in veteran athletics and runs on the King’s Park athletics track. He also has “run a groove around the Shark tank” after many years of running around the stadium.

Interesting fact about Wright:

His dream to be an astronaut may not have been realised, but he has rubbed shoulders with some of Nasa’s real astronauts and has spent a month at Nasa’s flight centre. One of his friends, who is an astronaut, took two Sharks jerseys into space, making them the only rugby jerseys to travel outside of the world’s atmosphere.

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