Springbok utility player Johan Goosen has admitted he didn’t think he would ever play for the Springboks again.
Goosen, who is expected to make his comeback to the Springbok team when the squad is announced on Thursday, left South Africa at the end of 2014 to pursue his career with Racing Metro in France. Hailed as an exceptional talent from a young age, Goosen had played only six Tests for South Africa when he made the unexpected decision to go play abroad.
He was injury prone which made it difficult for him to establish himself as the first-choice fly-half. His first season in France was very difficult for the South African and his career looked to be in trouble.
But he turned things around, becoming one of Racing Metro’s most important players and subsequently earned a recall to the Springboks from new coach Allister Coetzee.
“I’m very happy to be back and looking forward to the road ahead,” Goosen told the media at a press conference in the build-up to Saturday’s opening Rugby Championship Test against Argentina.
Goosen admitted there was a time when he thought the move to France might have been the wrong one.
“It was difficult at the beginning. I had to adapt but I wanted to do things my way. I didn’t really listen to what the club wanted but in the end I was forced to adapt,” he said.
Things got so bad for Goosen that Racing coach Laurent Labit publicly lambasted him for his approach. Goosen eventually turned a corner and is now settled.
“I’m actually very grateful for the way things unfolded. I would like to return to South Africa but the move to France was necessary for my personal growth.
“Playing with someone like (former All Black fly-half) Dan Carter has helped me a lot. He is such a great guy on and off the field as are the other former All Blacks, Joe Rokocoko and Chris Masoe.”
Goosen has been injury free this past season and said playing every week helped in that regard. Since Carter joined Racing Goosen has primarily played outside centre and full-back.
“I don’t care where I play. It’s just a number on your back. Regardless of where I play, it will be a great honour to play Test rugby again.”