Juarno Augustus in action during the game between the Stormers and the Bulls at Cape Town Stadium in February. Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

CAPE TOWN – A simple Google search will give you an endless run of motivational quotes directed at athletes working towards that comeback after injury.

“No athlete is truly tested until they’ve stared an injury in the face and came out on the other side stronger than ever”.

“Turn your setbacks into comebacks”.

“The road to athletic greatness is not marked by perfection, but the ability to constantly overcome adversity and failure”.

“Write your injuries in dust, your benefits in marble”.

You get the picture.

A lot of hands have scribbled about a lot of injury setbacks that a lot of athletes have had to deal with over the years. Since forever, actually.

It’s a normal part of sport.

Experience the frustration that comes with time spent on the sidelines at the fresh age of 21, and that normal part of sport must be particularly tough. Especially if it’s happened so regularly that you’d be forgiven for likening its (frequency of) occurrence to an Owen Farrell shoulder charge in 2018.

One 21-year-old who can probably give you a motivational quote or two himself related to injury is Stormers loose forward Juarno Augustus.

Juarno Augustus is tackled by the Hurricanes' Ricky Riccitelli at Westpac Stadium in Wellington. Photo: Marty Melville / www.Photosport.nz
Juarno Augustus is tackled by the Hurricanes' Ricky Riccitelli at Westpac Stadium in Wellington. Photo: Marty Melville / www.Photosport.nz

Named the World Under-20 Championship Player of the Tournament in 2017, or simply, the world’s best junior player, Augustus hasn’t had much luck on his side until now.

Since bossing the junior spectacle, a succession of injuries - mostly minor ones - have interrupted his much-anticipated contributions post his domination in 2017.

And it’s a real pity.

Ahead of Western Province’s Currie Cup-opener last year, coach John Dobson was hopeful that the domestic competition would present the “proper unveiling” of the then 20-year-old.

Dobson hoped that South Africa would get an extended look at those big hits, spurts past the blindside to the tryline, those hard carries and all-in-all athletic supremacy, even likening him to England No 8 Billy Vunipola.

According to Dobson though, Augustus’ GPS stats would just be better. And if you can picture him on the pitch fully charged and injury free, you’d understand exactly why.

Just like the prevalence of injuries in rugby, the list of former junior rugby stars who have gone on to bless the Test arena with their presence after being named the world’s best at U20 level, is also a long one. So, it’s not hard to see why 'Trokkie' became an automatic future Bok when he claimed the award.

John Dobson would like to see Augustus given a run when he's injury-free. Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix
John Dobson would like to see Augustus given a run when he's injury-free. Photo: Ryan Wilkisky/BackpagePix

He should be no different than all those who came before him.

But with Augustus, it’s not a case of being regarded a “Bok in the making” by default just because of the title he bagged couple of years back.

He’s earned it, just like he earned that U20 tag.

His abilities have earned him that international earmark. Now opportunity should complement it.

Sure, injuries have been the biggest hindrance to his game time. This season alone he’s been unavailable a few times, but more time on the field when he is fit can only help his progress.

And if he gets an injury-free run and enough game time to boot, that “proper unveiling” might not be too far off.

@WynonaLouw


Cape Times

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