Exclusive Interview: Oupa Mohoje on the comeback trail

Joe Leavey
28 November 2019

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For Toyota Cheetahs talisman Oupa Mohoje, a nightmare year is about to give way to a welcome return.

The 29-year-old flanker was initially ruled out for nine months when he tore knee ligaments in last year’s Guinness PRO14 opener against Munster, but 14 months down the line and the fan favourite is yet to see action again.

While the summer was meant to bring to a close his rehabilitation process, a torn left quadricep amounted to a significant setback, and he is now only just putting the finishing touches to his imminent comeback.

But after such a long time away from the playing field, Mohoje knows that his return will be a delicate process, and one that he must manage with caution in order to facilitate long-term fitness.

“Things are going well with the comeback,” he said.

“I’m fit enough to play, and the main thing now is to get game time and get conditioned. That will mean that when I get a chance, I can take it.

“The guys have been away on tour and it’s given me a chance to work on my conditioning. Hopefully, when they come back, I’m fit and ready to play.


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The fight never stops, EVER. 🏉⚪️🔶

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“It’s been a tough recovery process. It’s been over a year now, tiring and tough on the mind as well.

“You’ve got to come to realise that the other players who are playing are getting better by the day, growing by the day, so you’re not just going to come back and get in the team; you’ve got to work hard. That’s what the mentality is: just work your ass off and get back in the team.”

And though his season has thus far consisted of gruelling gym work back in Bloemfontein, that hasn’t kept Mohoje from keeping an especially keen eye on the Cheetahs’ performances.

The early Guinness PRO14 pace-setters, the Cheetahs dispatched of Glasgow Warriors, Ulster and Munster all in a row, before being edged out in their three away trips to date.

“I think that we’ve had a very good start so far,” Mohoje continued.

“I think that beating three of the strongest teams in the Guinness PRO14 is a very good start. Our fourth game [against Connacht] we came very close and were unlucky with the last penalty against us. It’s just about keeping the momentum as much as we can.

“We’ve got one game left before the end of the year when we can get some rest, so it’s about keeping the momentum going.”

And while the Cheetahs’ home form has become legendary in Guinness PRO14 circles, their results on the road have certainly left a little to be desired.

Their performances were impressive in close-run defeats to Connacht, Scarlets and Cardiff Blues across their last three fixtures, but Mohoje admits that the South Africans must take points from their European travels in order to reach the Final Series for the first time since their debut season in the competition.

“We’d love to get some results away,” he stressed, with the Cheetahs away to the Ospreys on Saturday.

“The main plan is to work our way into the quarter-finals, and if we get a couple of wins away, that will give us a better chance to play in the play-offs, where anything can happen.

“The plan is not just to keep our momentum at home, but to build momentum away.

“It’s lovely playing at home, for your home ground. The people have come out to support you, so what better way to make them proud than by giving them good rugby.

“We’ve been playing here for the longest time; we know this field, this environment, so it’s something that’s very familiar to us.

“If you can work your way into the quarter-finals, then anything can happen there. You just want to get there, and if you do, then Bob’s your uncle.”

Cardiff City Stadium will play host to the 2020 Guinness PRO14 Final on June 20 as one of the most exciting days in the club rugby calendar comes to Wales!

General sale tickets are available from http://bit.ly/PRO14Cardiff2020 and prices start at just £13 for concessions and £26 for adults (subject to booking fees), that’s a 15% early bird discount. Family ticket (2 adults / 2 children) prices begin at £64 and fans are encouraged to buy early to get the best value tickets.

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