I want to achieve
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.”