Just a week after telling a press conference how pleased he was to be getting an extended run after his long layoff, Kade Wolhuter has been hit by another massive setback.
The 21-year-old confirmed on Instagram on Tuesday night that he has ruptured his right ACL joint, meaning he will spend the next nine months on the sidelines before going through the rehabilitation process. It is Wolhuter’s second ACL rupture after the one that ruled him out of rugby as he was making good headway in his first season for the DHL Stormers as a 19-year-old in 2021.
The previous rupture was to his left ACL joint, which prompted him to remark with some humour on his Instagram account: “Second ruptured ACL joint, right knee this time, so at least I will be symmetrical.”
But there really isn’t anything funny about it, and while Springbok flyhalf Handre Pollard has recovered from two ACL ruptures, it is rare for a player to come back from that injury on two separate knees.
Wolhuter, who played for DHL Western Province in their Carling Currie Cup defeat to the Toyota Cheetahs last weekend, is however putting on a positive outlook, and after going through the nine months out and then the rehabilitation process, he knows what it takes and appears ready to embrace the challenge.
“Tough 9 months ahead of me, but we’ve done it once before so bring it on again,” he wrote.
Injuries have proved a massive setback in Wolhuter’s career since he was identified as a rising up-and-coming talent with Springbok potential by SA Rugby director of rugby Rassie Erasmus in 2020.
Wolhuter was part of the green and gold game between shadow national teams that was played as part of the comeback from Covid isolation process in October 2020, and his failure to kick on and vindicate Erasmus’ faith in him is all down to the way the first ACL injury and then a few more minor follow up injuries after his comeback have prevented him from getting game time.
A week ago he told a WP press conference that he had finally started to regain his confidence and that he was looking forward to playing a whole Currie Cup season as the Province No 10 so that he could get back into the groove again.
Wolhuter is only 21 and has plenty of time to still come back and make something of his career but the latest setback will significantly slow the process that had been restarted in the early stages of the Currie Cup season. Wolhuter has also played a clutch of games for the Stormers in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship and was particularly good in the win over Scarlets at DHL Stadium last November.
His injury will be a setback for the Stormers if Manie Libbok chooses to take up an offer from a French club next season. His absence from the WP team will probably mean an extended run in the No 10 jersey for Jean-Luc du Plessis for the foreseeable future. Du Plessis has been playing inside centre for the first part of the domestic season.
There has been no release from the Stormers on Wolhuter’s injury as yet but he was fine after the game against the Cheetahs so it can be assumed that he suffered the injury in training on Monday.