Cape Town – Springbok fullback Conrad Jantjes has spoken of the emotional and psychological rollercoaster ride that he has had to endure in his four months after sustaining a horrific injury in the Stormers’ Super14 match against the Chiefs on May 2.
He spent the initial week in hospital and a further seven weeks at home. It was from his couch that he watched the arrival of the British and Irish Lions on television.
“When I watched the Lions’ arrival, it really hit me. I took one or two days to throw my toys, but got over it and moved on,” said Jantjes.
“The positive thing is that, for the first time in my life, I have an answer for my friends when they ask what I will be doing in three weeks’ time.”
Jantjes took his first steps without crutches about three weeks ago following the leg break he sustained in a clash with Chiefs player Liam Messam.
“Normally you go from two crutches to one before you start walking, but I went straight from two crutches to walking. I started crying after about 10 to 15 steps,” he said.
Jantjes will play rugby again, but realises that patience will be one of his biggest challenges in the coming months.
“It was a rotational break and is quite common among footballers. I drew inspiration from players such as Djibril Cisse and Eduardo,” said Jantjes.
“I have not seen the incident again, but was the star in my own movie that night. When they were strapping my leg, my ankle appeared to be lying flat on the ground.”
The positive is that such an incident brings out the best in the rugby community.
“Western Province forwarded e-mail messages from supporters wishing me well,” said Jantjes.
“I even got a message from Heyneke Meyer and support from all over the world.”
The injury initially left Jantjes’ mom. Alfreda, in an emotionally charged state. “She was at my cousin’s wedding and quickly checked for the score on a television. That is when she saw me on my back,” said Jantjes.
“That is where a mom’s instincts kicks in. She immediately wanted to book a flight to Cape Town and fortunately she could not get one, because she wanted to know where the Chiefs were staying!
“It’s the second broken leg she has had to deal with. My dad also had one and I could see how my injury drained her emotionally when she came to visit.”
Jantjes’ recovery is of national interest because he was down to wear South Africa’s No 15 jersey this year.
However, he views it as premature to start talking about a comeback for the Springboks.
‘I don’t look that far ahead. Hopefully I can have a good pre-season and steadily get involved with the Stormers,” said Jantjes.
“My goal is to get back to 100 percent and only I will know when I am there. It’s going to be a long road back.”
In the meantime, Jantjes enjoys visiting Newlands and sitting among the fans. “I have never been a spectator and really enjoy it,” he says.
“I hear the chirps that are directed at the players and then defend them! It’s a psychological break for me. I can plan weekends for a while and really aim to cash in on that.”