TOUGH back-row forward Cornell du Preez has vowed to repay the support shown by Worcester Warriors chiefs during his recovery from a fractured larynx as the new Gallagher Premiership season draws closer.
Du Preez suffered the horrifying injury in an accidental collision with Wasps’ Joe Launchbury early in his competitive debut for Warriors in the opening Premiership match of last term at Sixways.
The South African-born player underwent surgery at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham and it was initially feared he would miss the remainder of the season. But he resumed fitness training early in the new year and he took a full part in training towards from March onwards.
“I owe the Warriors a lot for what the club did for me last season and I really want to give back and play well,” he told the Observer.
“I’ve never been so keen to go so it’s going to be good. Hopefully the opposition are going to feel that on the field!
The 28-year-old revealed the impact of the injury on his season was a spur to do well for his new side every time he takes to the field in a Warriors jersey.
“It isn’t a very common thing to happen and because the doctors don’t see it that often they were unsure how to treat it or even know if I could come back to play again,” said Du Preez.
“All of those things run through your mind as it happened but the more the months went on when I was out I felt like I was good to go even though I wasn’t cleared to play.
“It’s more a mental battle than anything else, just to put yourself out there and go through contact again. I had all the confidence to come back thanks to the great coaching and medical staff we have here.”
Scotland international Du Preez made the move to Sixways last summer, following his former coach and current Warriors chief Alan Solomons from Edinburgh. Solomons has had a huge impact on Du Preez’s career, having coached him north of the border and back in South Africa with the Southern Kings.
“All of the coaching staff wanted me, I know what they want to do, what type of game they want to play and I think I understand the system so that was one of the biggest reasons to join,” he said.
Du Preez is one of a number of Premiership players who have extensive experience in both the northern and southern hemisphere and labelled the Premiership the toughest league in the world.
“There are no easy games and the competition goes on for so long and is very physical throughout,” he added.