Two career-threatening knee injuries have hampered the progress of Gcobani Bobo, but the former Bok centre plans to be back to his best for the Sharks this season.
Two scars tell the story of the pain Bobo has endured since his golden days of early 2002. “This one is from the match against the Highlanders,” Bobo told keo.co.za, pointing to his right knee. “And this one, came against the Cheetahs just before the World Cup.”
Having scored a hat-trick for the Cats against the Bulls in the opening match of the 2002 Super 12 and grabbing another try against the Brumbies, Bobo was playing the best rugby of his career. Then, at the House of Pain in Dunedin, he tried to stop Aisea Tuilevu from scoring a try in the left-hand corner. The winger’s momentum took him over the tryline, but Bobo’s leg got caught under his leg and bent awkwardly, his cruciate ligaments snapping.
After months of painful rehabilitation Bobo retured to the game, and earned selection to the World Cup in Australia. However, his lifetime dream ended when he damaged the other knee in a meaningless Bloemfontein warm-up.
“It has been tough,” Bobo told keo.co.za during a game drive at Sun City. “The last couple of years, especially. Getting the injury in 2002 was a blow because I had been playing so well. And then for the same thing to happen before a World Cup … well …”
Bobo partnered Grant Rees against the Bulls at Sun City on Saturday and showed touches of the form that earned him five Springbok caps. His best moment came when he broke through the Bulls defence and sent a grubber towards the tryline. However, he was beaten to the ball by Wynand Olivier who dotted down for a 22m. Would the Bobo of 2002 have gone past Olivier?
“Look, I’m not as fast as I was then, but I’m hoping to get back up there this season,” said Bobo. “I’m still busy with my rehabiliation programme, which involves doing things like squats … exercises that strengthen the knee. I’m looking forward to playing for the Sharks in the Super 14. We’ve got a side that can do well if it plays to its potential.”
One thing’s for sure, if his moves on the rugby field in 2006 can match those he displayed on the dance floor at Sun City on Saturday night, Bobo will get to fulfill his World Cup dream after all.