After a stop-start campaign last season where he struggled with persistent injures, Springbok and Bulls prop Lizo Gqoboka is looking forward to a productive year.
Ahead of what is expected to be a busy 2021, the experienced front-rower admitted he was held back and frustrated by injuries suffered in the early part of last year.
Gqoboka has returned to full fitness in time for the Bulls’ Currie Cup opener against the Pumas in Mbombela on Friday, and said he is itching to get on the park and contribute to the team.
“In terms of rugby, the past year has not been too good,” said 31-year-old Gqoboka, who will also be hoping to make a breakthrough for the Springboks this year.
“I haven’t played six games in a row. There was always an injury being an obstacle and that was frustrating. But those are the things I have no control over. Every time I go on the field I want to give my best and don’t want to think about injuries.”
Having spent some time on the sidelines last year, Gqoboka said he is learning valuable lessons from the game.
“I’ve learnt a lot both on and off the field. Watching the guys play and the way the coaches are coaching, the changes, the new guys coming in from other unions and overseas,” he said.
“Just being in the team has taught me a lot because here, even if you are injured, you still go to the meetings. You don’t feel like you are on the outside. You are always involved. Hopefully, though, the injuries are a thing of the past.
“It’s something you don’t plan and it’s out of your control. We are quite professional in the sense that we have injury prevention programmes at the Bulls.
“But sometimes injuries happen. It’s not something I put in my mind. I go out there and give my best and make more memories with my teammates. That’s what I try to focus on and to improve my skills and my fitness every day.”
With the start of the New Year, Gqoboka is focused on staying in good physical shape and hopes to continue to learn and contribute to the overall success of the Bulls.
“Personally, it is just about being able to control what I can, which is working hard, making sure I’m in good shape, and hopefully no injuries,” he said.
“I want to sacrifice more, learn the game more, and be better in every area of my game. That is what I can control, and then play good rugby for the Bulls.”