After a challenging 2021, Springbok and Bulls prop Lizo Gqoboka is fully focussed and looking forward to a productive year ahead.
Gqoboka struggled with injuries in the early part of last year, something he admits held him back.
Now, however, a full-fit Gqoboka can't wait to make a positive contribution to the side as the United Rugby Championship gets underway for South African teams again later in January.
"In terms of rugby, the past year has not too good," Gqoboka told the Bulls' official website.
"I haven't even played six games in a row. There was always an injury being an obstacle, which was frustrating.
"But those are the things I have no control over - every time I go on the field, I want to give my best, and don’t want to think about injuries and therefore hiding away on the field."
The 31-year-old, who is now in his seventh season with the Pretoria-based franchise, says the game of rugby continues to teach his valuable lessons.
"I've learnt a lot, though, off the field. Watching the guys play and the way the coaches coach - the changes, the new guys coming in from other unions and overseas. Just being in the team has taught me a lot, because here, even if you are injured, you still go to the meetings.
"You don't feel like you are on the outside. You are always involved. Hopefully, though, the injuries are a thing of the past.
"It’s something you don’t plan and it’s out of your control. We are quite professional in the sense that we have prehab - injury prevention programmes here at the Bulls.
"But sometimes, injuries still happen. It’s not something that I put in my mind. I just go out there and give my best and make more memories with my team-mates. That’s what I try to focus on and to improve my skills and my fitness every day."
With the start of the new year, Gqoboka is focused on staying in good physical shape and hopes to continue to learn and contribute to overall success of the team going forward.
"Personally, it is just about being able to control what I can, which is working hard, making sure that I'm in good shape, and hopefully no injuries," he said
"I want to sacrifice more, learn the game more, and be better in every area of my game. That is what I can control, and then play good rugby for the Bulls."