Hollenbach far from his swansong

    2015-05-15 21:45

    Ockert de Villiers - Sport24

    Johannesburg - To say Lions centre Alwyn Hollenbach’s career has been plagued with injuries would be a major understatement as he only has 23 Super Rugby caps to show for his years of service to the game.

    Now in his fifth year in Johannesburg since his move from the Free State, Hollenbach believes he has finally turned a corner and is ready to repay the Lions for the continuous faith they have shown in him.

    “The last couple of months I’ve changed my mindset about my injuries and I’ve focused on my abilities, strength and fitness,” Hollenbach said ahead of Saturday’s clash against the Brumbies.

    “You can have all the money you want but it cannot replace the feeling when you walk onto the field with your team-mates.”

    Hollenbach made his return to the starting XV for the Lions in last week’s tussle with the Highlanders where his experience and calm confidence was evident in the crucial victory.

    His strong performance created a selection quandary for Lions coach Johan Ackermann as he had to shift regular centre Lionel Mapoe to the wing in his return from injury.

    Hollies, as he is affectionately known by his team-mates, had been quite philosophical about his return which no doubt had been fuelled by the time he had spent on the sidelines.

    “Just being back is phenomenal and to be playing should not be taken for granted,” Hollenbach said.

    “Every weekend is an opportunity to play and you never know if it could be your last game so I am just giving it a go.”

    With a total of four operations - two to his knees, one to the foot and shoulder - keeping him off the field, Hollenbach said he was grateful to the Lions for being patient with him.

    “There are amazing structures at the Lions and I have to give thanks to management for giving me the opportunity,” he said.

    “I couldn’t make the team because the guys were playing quite well and I must take my hat off to coach Russell Winter and Herkie Kruger (Vodacom Cup coaches) for their belief in me.

    “They said ‘you are not ending your career, you are just starting’ and that stuck with me and after that I just kept going.”

    The midfield combination of Hollenbach and rising star Harold Vorster will be tested on Saturday as they come up against Wallaby centres Matt Toomua and Tevita Kuridrani.

    Hollenbach said he could not wait for the challenge and he would bring a fair amount of physicality to the match.

    “I love the physicality of the game and I am definitely gonna get out there and get the first one in (tackle) and then just keep going,” he said.

    Speaking of his partnership with Vorster, Hollenbach believed the 21-year-old had higher honours written in his stars.

    “Harold is brilliant and mark my words he is going to be a Springbok if not in a couple of months then in a year or so,” Hollenbach said.

    “His skills are improving and I am glad to next to him and we have a good combination going.”

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