Currie Cup

Coenie Oosthuizen recalls moments after horror injury

Coenie Oosthuizen (Gallo Images)
Coenie Oosthuizen (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - When Coenie Oosthuizen took to the field in the 45th minute of the Sharks' 37-21 win over the Golden Lions in Durban on Saturday, he was a bundle of nerves. 

Having spent 10 months on the sidelines with a torn ACL and MCL, the 29-year-old couldn't help but think what his knee would feel like once he took his big first hit back on a rugby field. 

Fortunately, he got through unscathed which is good news for both the Sharks and the Springboks as they continue their preparations for next year's World Cup in Japan. 

Oosthuizen went down in the 3rd minute of last November's Springbok Test against Ireland in Dublin. 

Images of him being driven off the field on a medical buggy suggested that he would be out of the game for a long time, and Oosthuizen knew as soon as the injury happened that he was in trouble.

It was the latest in a series of injuries that had plagued the tightead's career.

"I broke my rib against Argentina (in 2016) when we played in the red kits. I broke my cartilage in both sides and I knew there was something wrong," he recalls.

"Then I played against Australia (in the next match) with the injury and in the last 10 minutes of the game I broke my arm. I didn't know my arm was broken.

"That was six weeks out and then in the first two minutes against Ireland, as I received the ball I went over my knee and it made a clicking sound twice, and I knew immediately something was off.

"Usually you ask yourself that question: Why me? But, why not me?

"I've been through it all, I've seen it all injury-wise. I've come back every time from injury and I know how to do it. I know how to get the job done."

For any professional, spending time on the sidelines and away from the game is difficult, but it seemed particularly difficult for Oosthuizen.

"Training for 10 months is mind-boggling, irritating and it's so frustrating not being able to play rugby and get your frustrations out," he said.

"As a rugby player you get that opportunity every day to run into something and let a little bit of frustration out, but when you're injured it's a difficult thing to get past when you're at home doing nothing. Keeping your mind busy is very important. Working in the gym has been tough ... I've been pushed to hell and back.

"Getting back on the field, I was so nervous. It wasn't about the game, it was about getting onto the field and making that first hit and not thinking about my knee."

There is obviously a long way to go before Oosthuizen can think about earning his Springbok No 3 jersey back, and there is serious competition in that position currently. 

Frans Malherbe, Wilco Louw and Vincent Koch are in the current Bok squad while the likes of Tervor Nyakane and Thomas du Toit are on the fringes. 

For now, though, Oosthuizen is just enjoying being able to do what he loves.

"It's obviously frustrating, but it's so much fun to be in this moment now where I get to start from scratch," he said.

"It's almost like you're starting to play rugby again at this level."

The Sharks are in action when they take on Western Province in a top-of-the-table Currie Cup clash at Newlands on Saturday.

Kick-off is at 14:00.

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