Ashwin’s mental war

Ashwin Willemse says his mind, not his body, will determine whether he returns to competitive rugby.

The injury-prone winger tore ligaments against the Sharks and has been ruled out for the rest of the season.

“People will think I am now really a has-been,” Willemse told Independent rugby writer Peter Bills. “But if I get through this one, I will be better and even stronger. This was just a freak accident. Lots of people are still playing after such an injury. It is whether I am willing to go through the whole ordeal again. It’s the mental aspect of it all.

“I don’t know how demanding this challenge will be, it will really push me to the limits,” he said. “I don’t know if I will be able to keep on going. This is really going to take a lot of courage to fight.”

Willemse remained positive despite the massive setback.

“The good news is, I’ve found a brand new limb to damage,” he joked. “At least now I don’t have any more knees to damage. It’s ironic because I was in the best shape I’d ever been in. And it’s only when you are away from the game that you realise how much you miss it.

“It’s not about the money, it’s about being able to play, about that challenge when you go on to the field, being able to express yourself out there. It’s what makes you tick, it’s who you are. Your game defines you, good or bad. I’m disappointed, of course, because it’s not like I hadn’t put in all the hard yards to get back.”