Big Joe to bulk up

Joe van Niekerk has told that his six month lay-off means he’s fitter than ever, but has admitted his strength has suffered as a result of his injury.

A typically frank Van Niekerk spoke about his concern at his upper body conditioning after being unable to gym with one arm for the entire off-season.

“Because of my wrist injury, I was unable to do any gym with my left arm. So now my right arm is stronger than the left. For the past three or four weeks, I’ve been able to gym my left side properly so now it’s a case of catching up.”

“My aim is that I’ll be at optimum strength in six to eight weeks. My strength must increase, and I’m aware how important that is to my game.”

Van Niekerk said the silver lining was that he was able to work on his fitness at an intensity that he hasn’t matched before.

“Generally my conditioning and fitness is the highest it’s ever been. I’ve been doing lots of running and 120s. Adjusting to contact again is the immediate challenge, as after the Force game I picked up a niggle and was a little stiff.”

Despite the difficulties and the end-of-year tour he was forced to miss, Van Niekerk believes having surgery last year was the correct decision.

“Overall it was the best decision I could make, and I’m pleased that I’ve put the proper rehab in and I wasn’t rushed back. Obviously, though, it’s awesome to be back.”

Van Niekerk has been named on the bench for the Stormers’ Vodacom Super 14 clash with the Blues tomorrow.

By Chris Hewitt