Durban - Mighty Coenie Oosthuizen, the 130kg former Springbok prop, will never live down the day he was felled by an insect and could not play a match.
Oosthuizen, better known as Shrek to his South African teammates, landed himself in hot water at Sale Sharks after an insect bit him and he chose a rather unorthodox method to treat the bite.
Instead of reporting to the team doctor, dear old Coenie rendered first aid to himself but only ended up complicating matters and missed a game as a result.
Sales' director of rugby, Alex Sanderson, explains.
“Props get chronic injuries to the neck and back and all those things that senior players have to manage, but Coenie could not play last week because of an insect, believe it or not,” an exasperated Sanderson said.
“It got infected and he tried to syringe it himself. Come game day he had inflammation and infection in and around the muscle because of his self-medicating approach to it. He couldn’t run.
“It’s ridiculous. The doctor’s been pulling his hair out. It’s the old-school South African mentality – I’ll fix this myself.
“He’s fine now and running around like a spring chicken because the antibiotics have kicked in.”
What Sanderson is talking about is the old adage of “A Boer maak a plan” but they don’t always get it right, of course!
Connie - or Coenraad Victor to his mother - is very much a loveable ogre and has always been on the goofy side and a source of much amusement to his teammates, and in the best traditions of tighthead props, he loves to voice a colourful opinion.
When he first came to the Sharks from the Cheetahs the first thing he bought was a jet ski. Durban beachgoers were much entertained by the sight of the bulky Oosthuizen spectacularly wiping out in the Indian Ocean, but such are the delights for the Bloemfontein boytjies when they make the trek south to KZN.
I recall Oosthuizen discussing the Boks’ famous defeat of the All Blacks in Wellington in 2018, just before he left the Sharks for Sale.
“My TV remote took a hammering!” he said. “Watching the Boks is exactly the same for rugby players as it is for supporters. You shout at the TV just like anybody else, you throw the remote at the referee, and you feel the same pride and emotion when they win,” he said before adding with a grin.
“But the luxury of being a player is that you can get on your phone and personally congratulate the guys straight after the game. So you send: ‘Well done you beast!’ or ‘Yus, you played like an animal!’”
“A great Springbok win changes everything in our country,” he said. “It lifts moods, puts a smile on the nation’s face. It is amazing what the Boks can do for this country. I was so proud of the boys ...” he said, almost mustering a tear.
Oosthuizen knows all about rugby and emotion. He has had terrible neck injuries that almost ended his career, and in one unfortunate stretch, bad luck struck three times.
“It started with that horrible knee injury against Ireland (in November 2017, and it would be the last of the 30 Tests he played). Well, it is bigger than that,” he said, winding himself up for a yarn.
“I broke my rib against Argentina in August 2016. I sat out a week out, then played against Australia and broke my arm, although I did not know it was broken at the time. I came off and went back on again but I can’t take the credit for being courageous … I didn’t know!
“So the arm kept me out of rugby for six weeks, and then two minutes into that 2017 November tour, against Ireland, I received the ball and went over my knee at the same time. It made two loud clicking sounds, so I immediately knew I was in big trouble.”
Some might have considered packing it in but Oosthuizen said that after a period of self-pity he changed his mindset.
“Yes you ask yourself the question: ‘Why me, but then you reflect and ask “why not me?” I have been through it all, injury-wise yet I always come back, I know how to do it. So that was my positive mindset.”
The33-year-old has now played 32 matches for Sale and looks set to continue at the Manchester club for some time … providing he can stay away from lethal insects.