PRETORIA – Blue Bulls loose forward Ruan Steenkamp knows all about missed opportunities but harbours no ill feelings towards the game.
In fact, the friendly but hard flank popularly known as “Stoney” is hopeful that the worst is behind him now and the new Currie Cup season will present another opportunity for him to kickstart his career and the Bulls to become domestic champions again.
Many others would have been bitter for the cruel hand the game has dealt Steenkamp in the past two years, but the former Junior Springboks captain says time on the sidelines has helped rest his body and return with a greater determination.
“Yes, it has been a while. Almost being back in Super Rugby and injuring my knee again so I am excited to be back with the guys and the team again,” said Steenkamp. “I think the body needed the rest. A lot of the guys’ bodies take a hammering week in and out and now the knee and pectoral muscle are stronger than ever before.”
Having been struck down by a pectoral muscle tear during training last year, Steenkamp missed out on leading the Bulls in the Currie Cup, while a knee procedure saw him lose his spot in the Super Rugby team to Marco van Staden, who is now in the Bok squad for the upcoming Rugby Championship.
But for Steenkamp, this is his time and that of the Bulls to show that they still belong at domestic rugby’s top table.
“Yes, definitely. We have the team and even though we are a young team, we have the talent. You need to decide if you are going to step up or not. If you don’t step up, there is no place for you, but if you step up then we can make a difference and play some good rugby,” added Steenkamp.
The Bulls will have to stand up and be counted without John Mitchell, who is set to leave for an assistant coaching role with the England team.
But Steenkamp is confident that the structures Mitchell put in place and Pote Human’s elevation to head coach will be a strong enough foundation for the team’s success.
The Blue Bulls start against Free State in Bloemfontein on Friday.