South African Rugby
Brussow and Smith winning fitness battle
ESPNscrum Staff
July 4, 2011

Injured Springboks duo Heinrich Brussow and Juan Smith both remain hopeful that they will be fit for this year's Rugby World Cup.

Brussow missed most of the 2010 Super Rugby season with a knee ligament injury and has seen this campaign blighted by a rib injury and then a hamstring complaint. The 24-year-old has set his sights on South Africa's opening Tri-Nations clash with Australia later this month while Smith, who is battling an Achilles injury, is some way from a return having only stepped on his foot with his full weight for the first time this week.

"I have to get on the field now. I have been sitting on my backside doing nothing for long enough," Brüssow told Sport24. "My injury is fine now and I have been training very hard with Doc Derik Coetzee for the past three weeks. I'm very happy with my fitness levels and what I have managed to do with the Doc. Now it's just a matter of getting match-fit."

Brussow, who may be forced to begin continue his recovery with the Cheetahs' Currie Cup clash with the Leopard on July 16, is well aware he faces a battle to reclaim in his international status but is determined to feature in the Tri-Nations. "I don't know what the coaches are planning, but that is my aim," he said. "We will probably hear this week [when the Springboks gather in Cape Town] exactly what the plans are."

Smith, who has been continuing his recovery in Johannesburg, is also positive about his likely return to Springbok colours. "I always knew that I would be in a race against time to make the World Cup squad," he said, "but I'm confident that it will be possible. My first goal is to play in the local leg of the Tri-Nations."

The 69-Test veteran has been using a special treadmill to aid his recovery having been sidelined since the early stages of the Super Rugby season. "It's a treadmill where you walk a kind of airbubble that helps them to determine with how much body weight you can walk on your foot. In my case we started with 20% three weeks ago and steadily increased the weight," said Smith. "On Wednesday I was able to jog on my own weight for 10 minutes and that was a huge relief.

"Fortunately I knew from the start that the more I put in now, the better my chance would be of making the team and recovering in time....I have to make contact and start playing again. The forced rest was good for me, but now I can't wait to play again."

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