DHL Stormers scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies fractured his leg just before the nationwide lockdown, so his family has been there every step of the way as he recovers at home in Kylemore.
Jantjies injured his leg in the DHL Stormers’ last game before the lockdown against the Cell C Sharks in Durban and soon found himself back at his parents’ house as South Africa shut down in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
While it took some getting used to at first, having lived on his own for a while, he is grateful to have the support of his family at this time as he continues his rehabilitation in lockdown.
“It is really nice being home, because I am back with my parents now. So I get to spend some time with my dogs and the gym is not too far away, it is just in the garage. It is really nice to be with the family again and not be on tour and away every weekend. So I am enjoying it, but I am really missing the rugby side of things and being with the guys.
“It is different now coming back home after living alone in my apartment, I have made myself a bed in front of the tv. But it is nice eating my mom’s food again, being in the company of my dad’s ‘flou’ jokes and getting to play some games with my brother,” he said.
While the injury to his leg has restricted the kind of training he can do, Jantjies has not let that keep him from working as hard as possible to get back to full fitness.
“I can only train my upper body, which is not the most fun, at least on the bright side I will be big when I get back. It is challenging, I am not going to lie, but luckily I have a training partner in my brother so it is nice doing the training and skills work with someone and not doing it just alone. It is part of being a professional rugby player and you have got to stick to what you think is going to get you back.
“From the start of this lockdown I told myself that this is not a holiday, I knew that I had to work harder to get back on the training field, so I am trying to put in the extra and find out what I have to do from the physio and the doctor. I went for x-rays the other day and everything is on track, I am just waiting for this period to go by so that I can get back with the guys and start training fully,” he said.
Psychologically, the fact that the team is not currently playing has made the recovery process that much easier for Jantjies, as he is not missing out on any DHL Stormers games.
“I think with the nature of my injury I think this lockdown is helping me, especially the fact that I am not missing out on too many games. The difficult part is that I am not around physios or conditioning coaches, so it is difficult try to do everything on my own without their direct supervision.
“I guess that is the hard part of being a professional athlete, we need to do what we can to recover and play again. Those are probably the things that most people don’t see, because they only see us on weekends playing. It is not as easy as people think, it is actually really hard.
“I have a training partner with me luckily, to help me carry weights. I try and gym in the morning, then do my eye-gym after that. I also do some rehab on my injury, some skills, then at night I try to have another upper-body gym session. That is all keeping me pretty busy at the moment, but I also enjoy chilling with my dogs,” he said.
Despite being on lockdown, the DHL Stormers have kept in regular contact, with regular team meetings and interaction between the players keeping everyone motivated to keep training and working hard.
“It has been fairly standard with whatsapp and trying to video call the guys. I speak to Bongi a lot and try send Chris van Zyl some memes, he generally likes them and sends some back. It is easy with technology, but I guess it is not the same as when you are used to having lunch with Dillyn Leyds or seeing Edwill van der Merwe and get to spend some time with the guys,” he said.
Jantjies knows that not everyone is fortunate enough to have the support structure that he does during lockdown, which is something that he is extremely grateful for.
“There are many people out there in very difficult positions right now and I am very grateful to have my family to support me in the way that I do. I would like to encourage everyone to do whatever they can to stay safe and help those less fortunate,” he added.