I want to achieve

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - JAC­QUES VAN DER WESTHUYZEN

LAST YEAR’S sur­prise fi­nal­ists, the Lions, are hard at work pre­par­ing for this year’s Su­per Rugby sea­son. One man though who isn’t part of the cur­rent squad is prop Ju­lian Redel­inghuys, who will sit out the en­tire year af­ter break­ing his neck in the Cur­rie Cup semi-fi­nal against the Chee­tahs in Bloem­fontein in Oc­to­ber.

“At least I’m be­ing pro­duc­tive and con­tribut­ing,” says Redel­inghuys when asked how things are go­ing at the mo­ment.

“I’ve just fin­ished build­ing a cot and my fa­ther and I also had to sort out the pa­tio. The good news is I can use my arm again and I’ve started run­ning. I’m 3000 per­cent bet­ter than I was,” he chuck­les deeply.

Redel­inghuys was taken to a Bloem­fontein hos­pi­tal where he was sta­bilised and an op­er­a­tion to fuse his ver­te­brae at C5 and 6 level was done.

“For two and a half months I couldn’t move my left arm 30 de­grees. My bi­cep was done and my shoul­der, too,” the 27-year-old said.

“But now I’m fi­nally feel­ing bet­ter and there’s an im­prove­ment in my con­di­tion. I can lift 5kg above my head and my neck feels bet­ter. It’s still very stiff ... but then props al­ways have stiff necks.”

Redel­inghuys’ re­cov­ery has been re­mark­able, but he’s still un­sure whether he’ll play rugby again.

He’ll visit his doc­tors in Bloem­fontein next week, who he says: “Will give me a re­al­is­tic re­port on my progress. It de­pends on them whether I can think about play­ing again or not.”

The prob­lem is that this was not Redel­inghuys’ first neck break. He broke his neck at C6 and 7 as a young­ster at the Sharks in 2008. “I was 19 and a fu­sion was done then as well,” Redel­inghuys says.

“What hap­pened then was I had what they call a col­lapsed disc but now they ac­tu­ally had to take a piece of my hip bone, do a graft and bolt my neck to­gether again.

“Of course there’s now greater risk of me get­ting badly hurt. But I first want to try and get ev­ery­thing strong again be­fore any de­ci­sion is taken on my play­ing fu­ture. No doc­tor has yet said: ‘It’s a good idea’ to play again, but it’s too soon to say.”

The only thing on Redel­inghuys’ mind right now is the im­mi­nent ar­rival of his and his wife Su­mari’s first child, a daugh­ter who’s due on next month on the 16th.

“My left arm will be strong enough then to hold her. We can’t wait,” he says.

It’s hav­ing a fam­ily and be­ing “pro­duc­tive” around the house that is mak­ing Redel­inghuys won­der about his fu­ture. Even though he says he has un­fin­ished busi­ness in rugby.

“I def­i­nitely want to play again. There’s still so much I want to achieve and do in the game,” Redel­inghuys says.

“I have a huge pas­sion for rugby and want to be part of the process to build the Boks up again, to be a world force again and I’m so op­ti­mistic it’ll hap­pen soon. I want to be part of that, I want to in­spire oth­ers, too.

“But, I am about to be­come a fa­ther, I have a won­der­ful wife ... I do not want to die on the rugby field or be paral­ysed.”

What­ever is de­cided down the line, it’s a call that will not be about Redel­inghuys, the rugby player. It will be a de­ci­sion about what is right for the Redel­inghuys fam­ily. And as he says: “It’s not in my hands.”

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