Cape Town - Springbok and Bulls lock Flip van der Merwe is only expected back on the field next year, but he's already determined to make a positive return going into the next Rugby World Cup.
Van der Merwe suffered a serious knee injury during the second Springbok Test against Wales in June. He's set to be sidelined for six months, which means he'll only make his comeback during next year's Super Rugby tournament.
The 29-year-old will miss the Springboks' Rugby Championship campaign and end-of-year European tour, as well as the Blue Bulls' Currie Cup campiagn.
Van der Merwe admits it's a tough blow, but he's focused on making a big impact upon his return to secure his place in the 2015 Springbok World Cup squad, especially after missing out in 2011.
"My first goal will be helping
the Bulls do well during Super Rugby and regaining my form. Then my
focus will be making the Springbok World Cup squad," Van der Merwe tells
"I'm working hard during my rehab to ensure I'm fit and strong when I return to the field. I don't want to rush anything and risk further injury heading into a World Cup year."
Van der Merwe, who captained the Bulls for most of Super Rugby this season, added that the leadership responsibility has given him fresh experience.
"It was a big learning curve. I
never thought I'd be given to the opportunity to captain the Bulls, but
I really enjoyed it," he said.
"I credit the support of the players around me. It was also good having a guy like Victor Matfield around me at the Bulls and Boks. He's made a wonderful comeback since coming out of retirement, and has given me great advice when needed."
Away from the field, Van der Merwe says he'll now have more time to spend on his business.
"When I'm not playing, I like
to take a break from rugby and give my mind a rest from the game," said
Van der Merwe.
"I like to spend time with family and friend. I also run my own financial advisory business, so I'm quite involved in the corporate world."
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