Scarra Ntubeni puts career back on track
A natural leader‚ he was earmarked as a possible captain from early on‚ while his close friend and housemate Siya Kolisi often flirted with trouble.
There were no obvious signs that Kolisi would be the Stormers captain one day.
Ntubeni was always the more likely candidate.
But injuries‚ while never convenient‚ have come at inopportune times for Ntubeni and his career has not reached the heights many expected it would. Yet.
He is only 26 and two weeks ago made his 50th appearance for WP when he came off the bench and last week he put in an impressive shift against the Blue Bulls in his first start of the year.
A ruptured Achilles tendon last September left his career in the balance‚ but months of determined rehab have seen him make a near miraculous recovery.
"It [the injury] 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.
"WP 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].
"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.”
Springbok dreams‚ which were so close a few times – notably when he was included in squads in 2013 and in 2016 – are still at the back of his mind‚ but not his main objective at this stage.
WP’s 45-34 win over the Blue Bulls last week was their second of the Currie Cup campaign and that’s where the genial hooker’s attention is focused at this stage of his career.
“I just want to build game by game at this stage. I really want to contribute as much as I can to the team‚” he said.
“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 Springbok mix‚ but my focus at the moment is for WP to go as far as we can in this competition and for me to contribute as much as I can.”
WP meet the Lions at Newlands on Friday.