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Ken Borland

Jake makes impassioned plea for patience with Goosen

Posted on January 09, 2023 by Ken

Coach Jake White has made an impassioned plea for the Springboks and the public to be patient with Johan Goosen as the Bulls flyhalf star makes a tentative return from a serious knee injury.

Goosen has only played two-and-a-half games of rugby since returning from 11 months out due to knee surgery, and he has understandably not exuded the same confidence as he usually has. Goosen will not be playing for the Bulls against Benetton in Treviso on Friday night because he now has a mild concussion.

The 30-year-old has however been called into the Springbok training camp for the end-of-year tour of Europe, and, with the dearth of flyhalves Jacques Nienaber is currently experiencing, White is hoping that the national coaches don’t push him too hard too soon and that the public don’t expect too much too soon from Goosen.

“I feel sorry for Johan,” White said on Thursday, “because of all the expectation that he will just arrive back in the team, wave his wand and be the best player in the URC competition and the alpha and omega of world rugby for the Springboks.

“He was on fire last year, but then he was out for 11 months and I have never coached any player who has been out that long and comes back and just pulls all the strings like before.

“Especially playing at flyhalf, where you have to make all the decisions, you’re basically the general. He does have a burning desire to get back to the Springbok team, but he is a long way off still from where he wants to be.

“But you don’t always get your opportunity at the time you decide, and he is tough enough and driven enough to take this one. I would have liked him to have had more games before his call-up,” White said.

If Goosen encounters no further injury headwinds between now and next year’s World Cup, White expressed the confidence that he would be able to win the prized tournament for South Africa at flyhalf.

“He’s coming into a very good, settled team, and I have no doubt he can win the World Cup for them. But at the moment he is probably five or six games short of his best, and he needs time, games and backing.

“I signed him for the Bulls until 2026 because I have a long-term plan with him, which is why I handle him like I do, I have more time. I’ve been very conservative because it will be very difficult for him to come back from another knee injury.

“I hope the public is as patient and understanding with him. It takes a while to fire at that level, it won’t just happen overnight,” the veteran coach said.

White confirmed that he had had no contact from Nienaber nor national director of rugby Rassie Erasmus over Goosen’s progress. That might just be because they are still sore over White’s criticism of Springbok selection earlier in the year.

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