Ntubeni rising above adversity
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: It has been a long road to recovery from injury for Siyabonga 'Scarra' Ntubeni and the Western Province hooker has gained a new perspective on his rugby career while on the sidelines.
Ntubeni, who recently returned to action on the field in the colours of Province in this year's Currie Cup, suffered a horrible torn Achilles tendon in September last year, which subsequently ruled him out of action for the Stormers in Super Rugby.
Despite not knowing if he was ever going to play rugby again, the 26-year-old remained positive and worked hard not to let the injury take over his life.
"It was very tough, especially the beginning part not knowing how long it is going to take or if I am going to play again," said Ntubeni.
"The [Western Province Rugby] Union was very good to me and the medical staff was tremendous, so I just had to do my part and work hard and just set myself new goals.
"I think that was the only thing that kept me going and I had a lot of off-field support and a lot of things that kept me busy like charity [work].
"I think it was good just to have a balance outside of rugby as well. It taught me a lot - sometimes we get caught in this rugby bubble and it was good in a way for me to be outside of it - I learnt a lot.
While he is finding his rugby legs again, Ntubeni still dreams of becoming a Springbok one day. However, he does not want to look past his short-term goals.
Ntubeni was part of Bok squads in 2013 and 2016, but he never got the chance to win a Test cap.
"I think I just want to build game by game at this stage. I really want to contribute as much as I can to the team. There is still a lot of time in the competition, so hopefully, I can get better every week and peak at the right time.
"Obviously, I would really love to get back in the [Springboks] mix, but I think my focus at the moment is for us [WP] to go as far as we can in this competition and for me to contribute as much as I can," Ntubeni added.
Province have not had the best of starts to this year's Currie Cup, but after their 45-34 win over the Blue Bulls last weekend, Ntubeni feels that the team will only get better.
"It was quite good to get some time again," he said. "It is also nice to be part of a team environment and have players that really back you and a coaching staff that backs you.
"It was really good to be back and hopefully we can just build on that. We don't want to get ahead of ourselves.
"We just want to try and improve everytime we get on the field. With the two competitions [Super Rugby and Currie Cup] coming together, it was a rocky start - the fixtures were quite tight, but the more time we spend together the better we are going to get."