Six months on the sideline has felt like an age for Waratahs prop Tom Robertson but ironically his Super Rugby return is coming earlier than expected.
Robertson ruptured his ACL training with the Wallabies in Argentina in October last year as he attempted to change direction in a drill.
“I stepped off my right foot, which you normally don’t do as a front-rower you normally don’t step that often, but I stepped off my right foot a bit funny outside my body line and my knee just caved in,” he said.
“That was what happened at the time.
“And then because I had never had any ACL injury before, I’d obviously seen a few, but I didn’t really know what was involved and it was a bit up in the air at the time."
When the diagnosis came through, Robertson knew there was little prospect of any kind of miracle recovery.
“It’s quite interesting having studied a lot of this stuff in my uni degree, what’s involved in that and it was pretty interesting when I came off the field and he did the tests for the ACL and I know it’s 80-90 per cent accurate, so when the doctor tells you’ve torn your ACL it’s pretty likely that you’ve actually done it,” he said.
“It’s not that comforting, but at the same time it gives you a lot of confidence in what the medical team are doing.
“It’s been pretty good to be honest, the physios have been pretty transparent about what’s going on and the likelihood if I come back too early and how I need to be running before I come back. I’ve ticked all the boxes and I’m medically fit to come back, so I’m quite confident.”
Robertson has been back in full training for the best part of a month and had planned to return to Shute Shield with Sydney Uni while the Waratahs were in Africa.
An injury to Rory O’Connor scuppered those plans and put Robertson on the plane to Johannesburg.
The front rower said he wasn’t concerned about the lack of match preparation, though.
“I haven’t played Shute Shield and there were a few injuries and stuff in the Sharks game on the weekend which sort of changed the plans around Shute Shield.
“I’m pretty confident due to all the training and scrums you do because when you’re at training you’re basically versing a Super Rugby quality starting front-row with Harry and Sekope and Damian Fitzpatrick, I’m quite confident in our ability.
“If you go to Shute Shield, the quality’s probably not as good as what you’ve got within the squad because we’ve got three to four Super Rugby props running around in the Waratahs squad at the moment, so I’m quite confident in that.”
The Waratahs were monstered by the Sharks in last weekend’s clash and they can expect another bruising challenge against the Bulls in Pretoria.
Robertson said they had addressed that issue ahead of the Pretoria match.
“We spoke about probably our body height and leg drive wasn’t good enough because with those big South African teams when they try and monster you what they do is they’ll hold you up in attack,” he said.
“When you’re attacking with the ball they’ll hold you up and try and form a maul and then obviously if the maul collapses it’s a turnover, so we’ve recognised that’s probably going to be a recurring theme throughout these South African games.
"Our body height’s going to be crucial this weekend because we know we’re not a big team, but in rugby if your body height is lower generally you’re going to win that battle.”
The Waratahs take on the Bulls on Saturday May 4 at Loftus Versfeld, kicking off at 3:05pm local, 11:05pm AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS and Kayo Sports.