In April 2008, Vodacom Stormers prop JD Moller left the field during his teams 20 -12 victory over the Hurricanes at Newlands with what looked like a dislocated shoulder.
The severity of his injury was only realised after a scope on his shoulder revealed that the stalwart of the Vodacom Stormers tight five would be out of action for the rest of 2008. The loosehead prop has spent the last six months in intensive rehabilitation and has learnt to take the good with the not so good, strengthening both body and mind for the 2009 Vodacom Super 14.
“I definitely missed the game, the team and the guys – an injury is a big blow to any rugby player, but there are positives,” enthused the 26 year old. “I’m very happy and grateful for how my operation and the rehabilitation has gone, everything is on track and I’m able to take contact.”
The former Paarl Boys High boarder made his debut for Vodacom WP at age 20 earning more than 50 caps for the Blue and White Hoops of WP and played in 36 matches for the Vodacom Stormers since his Super 14 debut in 2005.
His absence over the past six months has given a few other young props the opportunity to gain experience at a higher level, with both Wicus Blaauw and JC Kritzinger touted as the new kids on the block for the Cape based team in the latter half of 2008.
“I can remember when I made my debut in 2003, I was working with guys like Daan Human,” says Moller. “I learnt so much from him and both Wicus and JC are still very young. They’ve done very well this season and are definitely prospects for the future.”
Moller says that having depth at prop allows the players to put pressure on one another. “Wicus toured with us in the Super 14 earlier this year and even though he didn’t play on tour, working together helps us learn from each other, which is great for the team.”
The prop’s shoulder reconstruction put him out of any physical activity for almost two months. “I had to start from scratch,” said Moller of his conditioning. “It’s hard work, and the thing is that you want to make sure after such a long lay-off that you take the opportunity and you come back stronger than you were before the injury.”
“I worked very closely with Steph du Toit on the conditioning, Lize looks after me on the physio side and then also Johan van Wyk on the rehabilitation. It has been a lot of work, but we’re a great team! All the injured guys train together – so we keep each other motivated. It really is hard work and there is still work to be done, but we’re on track and it will be worth it in the long run.”
Team mates Pieter Myburgh (Looseforward), Dylan Des Fountain (Centre), Willem de Waal (Flyhalf), AJ Venter (Utility Forward), Gcobani Bobo (Centre) and Conrad Hoffmann (Scrumhalf) are all progressing well with their respective rehabilitation programmes.