Willemse’s back from the brink

Ashwin Willemse’s career is not over. The Cats flyer has come through intense rehabilitation and will be fit to start the Super 14 campaign.

“Ashwin is in his final stage of rehabilitation and while he’s training every day I want to make sure he’s 100 percent fit and ready before I use him,” Cats coach Frans Ludeke told The Star.

Willemse’s recovery is remarkable, bearing in mind the many predictions that he would be forced to retire prematurely from the game after yet another horrific injury in the opening weeks of last year’s Super 12.

After being the one shining light during the nightmare 2003 season, Willemse has been plagued by misfortune and many will be hoping those days are finally behind him. None more so than Jake White, a known fan of Willemse’s abilities, who has yet to find a permanent wing to partner Bryan Habana.

Breyton Paulse’s French commitments means his availability will be sporadic, whilst the jury is still out on Conrad Jantjes’ claims to jersey 14.

Willemse’s mind, however, will be entirely on the upcoming Cats campaign.

“He’s looking good to start the Super 14 (February 11), but we’ll have to assess him closer to the time. There’s no point in rushing him if he isn’t up to it,” Ludeke said.

Such caution is understandable, and should Willemse make a successful recovery, both the Cats and South African rugby will be the grateful beneficiaries of such a policy.