Hougaard: 'Tough road to the top'
Springbok and Bulls scrumhalf Francois Hougaard spoke to Jan de Koning about his form, his injury and the long road back.
Francois Hougaard may not be everybody's cup of tea and he is copping plenty of criticism over his lack of form. But the Springbok is determined to be back to his best soon.
The 25-year-old, who has 27 Tests to his credit, was one of the players who came under fire after the Bulls slumped to a 16-31 loss to the Sharks in their Week One outing in Durban last week.
Not only was Hougaard's kicking game well below standard, but he also threw a sloppy pass that resulted in the Sharks' second try.
However, he is hell-bent on regaining the form that made him a must-have in the Bok squad a couple of years ago.
Hougaard admitted that it wasn't a good day at the office for the Bulls in Durban last week, but said with hard work they will bounce back and be a force for the rest of the Super Rugby season.
Hougaard, speaking to this website ahead of their Round Two encounter with the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Friday, admitted they must cut down on the errors that cost them so dearly in Durban.
"Any good team will be able to do that [feed of the opposition's errors] and the Sharks turned every opportunity into points," the Bok said.
"We won't collapse in a sorry heap," he said of last week's loss, adding: "The competition is certainly not won in the first week and we will look to fix it this [coming] weekend."
He said he will be working on "all aspects" of his game - the kicking, the passing, as well as his ability to scan for opportunities on the field.
"It doesn't matter how well I play, I will always look to work and improve on my game," he told this website.
However, it is his kicking game that is causing the biggest concern and the scrumhalf said part of the problem can be attributed to his long lay-off after major ankle surgery.
"It has been tough, because for almost seven months I could not run at all," Hougaard said of the injury that had sidelined him since July last year.
"I am working hard to get back to my best, to improve on my kicking [game] and everything else."
He explained that because of the severity of the injury and the major surgery, his recovery and rehabilitation was something that would not have happened overnight.
"I am working hard to get it [my game] back to where it should be," he told this website, adding: "But with an ankle injury it is always tough to get going, and it was a very big operation.
"I was in bed for nine weeks, when my leg was elevated. It has been a tough process, getting through the rehabilitation and I am still working hard at it.
"Kicking was one of the last things I could start working on and that is one of the most important aspects for a scrumhalf.
"As I said, I am working hard to get it back, but it is tough getting it back on par because I started so late."
By Jan de Koning