'It felt like a seven-month hangover'

Fri, 13 Oct 2017 08:24

IN THE SPOTIGHT:  Warriors vice-captain Gerrit-Jan van Velze feared his career was over following a concussion injury in the opening game of the 2016/17 season.

The No.8 clashed with Saracens flank Michael Rhodes at Twickenham in a seemingly harmless collision - but it turned out to be significantly more - as Van Velze was forced out of action for the whole season.

He said: "I thought: 'Is this how my career's going to end?' I started playing rugby when I was seven. Was it going to suddenly end because of a body-check at Twickenham?'

"It all happened when I ran a short line and was body-checked but it wasn't enough to knock me out. I had a bit of a whiplash and then, at the next ruck, I had this throbbing headache. Four weeks later, I was still being told to stay at home.

"In these tough times, you sometimes question yourself if you're going to play again.

"The doctors weren't sure what was causing the symptoms, but after a number of tests they identified that I damaged my eye and ear canal through head trauma. This made it difficult for me to keep my balance. I could not stand on one leg with my eyes closed.

"Eventually I got diagnosed with vestibular problems. The impact against Saracens was the last straw that broke the camel's back. I worked extremely hard with the medical staff and especially with Julie Hayton (Warriors Acting Head of Medical) on a number of weird and fun exercises to get me back to feeling normal again over the next six months."

Van Velze finally recovered from his concussion during the off-season and passed his return to play protocol on June 17, 2017.

* Article continues below video!

The South African-born back row made his return to action at the start of the 2017/18 campaign and recently revealed what kept him sane during his lengthy time away from the game.

He explained: "It felt like a seven-month hangover. I wasn't allowed to do anything for the first four months. I wasn't allowed to watch TV, read, use my phone or drive. I fell in love with audiobooks, podcasts and found myself a DIY project where I built a desk out of copper tubing and plywood.

"My next venture was setting up a handmade footwear business called Van Velze and Smith Superior Leather which will launch in early November. The idea is to sell classic handcrafted leather boots and for every boot sold I will give away a pair of sports footwear to aspiring youngsters."

Alongside his shoe business, Van Velze took a lambing hobby to the next level with the help of his good friend James Wilson, turning it into a small-scale business, selling meat to friends, teammates and family.

And he revealed how his hobby has now grown into much more.

He continued: "This was made possible by the infrastructure on the farm and James, and it has grown at a fast pace. We set up spreadsheets to monitor dentistry records, weight, feeding habits, birth rates and medical issues.

"Now we've got 22 breeding ewes and 35 lambs which are fattening up. Without James this would not have been possible but thanks to the Farmers Weekly magazine and a few YouTube guides, this has kept me very busy."

Van Velze's lamb business [Little Pretoria] is now booming in which he's been able to sell to the public as well as those who are close to him. If you'd like to inquire then you can email GJ at littlepretoria@gmail.com for more information.

Now back in the thick of the action, Van Velze has started all six of Warriors' games so far this season.

And he is fully focused on the task at hand as Warriors look to get some wins on the board.

He added: "It's great to be back playing regularly. I've really missed it. It hasn't been the start we hoped for but we've got a great group of players and we're confident we can turn things around."

Source: RugbyPass

There are currently no matches being played
FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Fri, 23 February 2018
Highlanders v Blues 06h35 Dunedin
Rebels v Reds 08h45 Melbourne
Munster v Glasgow Warriors 19h00 Irish Independent Park
Dragons v Edinburgh 19h30 Rodney Parade
Leinster v Kings 19h35 RDS
Scarlets v Ulster 19h35 Parc y Scarlets
France v Italy 20h00 Paris
Sat, 24 February 2018
Sunwolves v Brumbies 04h15 Tokyo
Crusaders v Chiefs 06h35 Christchurch
Waratahs v Stormers 08h45 Allianz Park
Treviso v Connacht 12h00 Stadio Monigo
Bath v Sale Sharks 12h30 Recreation Ground
Lions v Jaguares 13h05 Johannesburg
Exeter Chiefs v Northampton Saints 14h00 Sandy Park
Ireland v Wales 14h15 Aviva Stadium
Gloucester v Wasps 14h30 Kingsholm
Harlequins v Newcastle Falcons 15h00 Twickenham Stoop
Bulls v Hurricanes 15h15 Loftus Versfeld
Scotland v England 16h45 BT Murrayfield
Ospreys v Cheetahs 17h30 Liberty Stadium
Sun, 25 February 2018
Zebre v Cardiff Blues 13h00 Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi
London Irish v Worcester Warriors 13h00 Madejski Stadium
Saracens v Leicester Tigers 15h30 Allianz Park
PREMIERSHIP
MORE LOGS
Team P W D L Pts
Saracens 15 11 0 4 53
Exeter Chiefs 15 10 0 5 52
Wasps 15 10 0 5 48
Gloucester 15 9 0 6 42
Newcastle Falcons 15 9 0 6 41
Bath 15 8 0 7 41
Leicester Tigers 15 8 0 7 37
Sale Sharks 14 7 0 7 37
Harlequins 15 6 0 9 32
Northampton Saints 15 6 0 9 30
Worcester Warriors 15 5 0 10 27
London Irish 15 1 0 14 11