The 33-year-old third streak is fighting to get all his feelings back until he lives one last year at RCT.
He gave up on Cers de Saint-Raphal as he did part of his rehab.
About 8 months after your injury, where are you in the recovery program?
There is still a lot of work to be done, but I think it was good to go through Cers (European Sports Rehabilitation Centre). It allowed me to get rid of some worries. I put myself at a slightly higher risk for some moves I’m no longer used to doing. Inevitably, after what I had, I was very protective. By putting myself at a little more risk, I saw that once the psychological barrier was over, I could do so. It gave me confidence. Although I knew the Cers team, it also strengthened our relationships. We were able to work for two weeks. This allowed me to ask myself fewer questions, and less thinking. If they make me do an exercise or movement, it’s because they think I can. If they have confidence, it is also up to me to have confidence in myself.
I also knew Cers from your previous injury. Did it save you time too?
There, it was different. Last time it was the first rehab (in December 2020 for a similar injury to my left knee) that was dealt with by the club. It was a little complicated. This time, I came without pressure. I gave my goals, what I wanted to work on. They were receptive and we got into it. On the first day we tried everything to find out where I was and the next day we started working and each time we managed to get past a level. Before getting to Cers, what is your program? The first part of the rehabilitation took place in Lyon, with the fitness of the club and physical preparation. When the season ended, I returned to Toulon with my family. I went to a center not far from my house: Aquaphysiosport, with Nicolas Petitbois. I knew him, because that’s where we were doing cryotherapy with Toulon at the time. I’ve also worked with Thomas Sonetti, who plays for RCHCC, and is also a physical trainer. We did really well, and all of this allowed me to arrive ready for Sears.
On a moral level, how did you go through this injury that is as rare as it is important?
It was a huge injury, yes. It was difficult at first. Let’s say the first 3 weeks when you’re in a wheelchair, your head is low…it’s true you feel the blow, especially since I’ve been coming back from the injury. But I was at the Pomponiana (Functional Rehabilitation Center in Hyères), it allowed me to set the record straight as possible. Next to me were amputees, burn victims, I happened to run into children. When I saw it all, I said to myself, “You are lucky enough to be able to walk again. Some will never be able to. Ask yourself the right questions: Do you want to go back? If so, give you the means to come back.” It happened naturally. When I saw that I started planning to be ready, I had started the countdown in my head without even realizing it.
In moments of doubt, have you thought about dropping everything?
When I get injured and they put me in the changing room, I ask to see my wife and son and I tell them, “It’s okay, I’m sick. I don’t want to go back to rehab. I don’t want that anymore.” Then, over time, I tested myself to see if I missed it. I stopped watching matches but, since I didn’t watch many matches, that didn’t change much. (laughs) In the end, it started again. I surrounded myself with healthy people: my loved ones, my family, not negative people. I am not blind, from the moment I was injured everyone declares the end of my career. So I thought about it. But when I told myself I wanted to appeal, I put myself in my bubbles without considering what to say on the right or the left. I wasn’t on revenge but focused on my safety.
What was the speech of the doctors?
The surgeon told me it would come from me, and it would take some effort. He had no doubts, he said to me, “I fixed you, now it’s up to you to prepare yourself physically and do what is necessary so that it does not happen again.” So, I had to be confident in my own mind and not have any fears because it’s the worst.
Was this double injury related to your previous operation?
I suspect. There is no mystery when you hurt yourself twice in the same place… For me, we missed certain things about the first rehab. thus. Now behind me. However, I see the difference with what I’m currently doing. It has nothing to do. Then, since 2013, when I had a major dislocation during the European Cup final, I’ve always had tendinopathy. Not only that, I’m also a guy who constantly exercises yo-yos in terms of weight, and that also plays a role. The rugby years are important, too. All this, and after a while, he gave up. To break your tendons, you have to go. Through the opening, the surgeon saw that he had already been severely damaged. Hope it holds up now.
What does the sequel look like to you?
Last week I was with the club for two days to appeal. We did some tests to see where I am and that’s very positive. With the center doctor and also the club doctor, we decided that today (last Friday) was my last day at Cers when I had to stay for 4 weeks. From Monday, I continue my sports with the club.
These are positive signs for recovery…
It’s a good thing, it proves that things are progressing a bit, and the work we’ve been able to do so far has paid off. Even if I only stayed two weeks instead of four at Cers, I know I couldn’t have accommodated the two days at the club without it. We went looking for things I no longer do, simple things for a great athlete, but I stopped doing them because of my injury, my fears, and psychological barriers. There, I jumped.
The next cycle, specifically, what will it be?
I already see how it goes at the club. The rhythm of the center is different from the rhythm of the club. There will be danger, we will set goals to go step by step. It’s a big challenge. I’m mentally ready. Next, the physical body follows, which is almost the easiest.
She wanted the chance to fall on you in May…
There was this meditation, to say to himself: “Isn’t that a sign?” Some people around me, who are a little more spiritual than me, think that showed me it was time to go home. I take a step back on this.
At the moment there is also a new display of emotion from this stage towards you…
At the time, I was shot with a small bullet due to oxygen. But when my wife showed me the video, it really affected me.
There is a real link between you, this stadium, this club, and you…
I spent 8 years on RCT, I gave myself 600%. I had the opportunity to win titles and make people happy. It is true that there is a special relationship with supporters. I am very happy to be able to return to Toulon, to my home. Even when I was in Lyon, my son and my wife were here, it was not easy to live elsewhere. In the end, since I left, there has always been an association with this city.
The announcement of your return stirred up a lot of emotions among supporters.
The warmth of my heart A little left to everyone’s surprise, let’s say. There was a lot of disappointment. At the time, there were things I didn’t like about the club. I thought, at the time, it was best to leave. Looking back, I think differently.
Was there an incomplete taste?
Nothing unfinished, but I am a person working to the effect. At the time, some things were hurting me a bit, and from the moment I didn’t feel like it anymore, I felt like I had nothing to do there. Now behind it, it has been digested. We are looking forward.
It is not easy to go home, but even more so to Toulon with the enthusiasm that can be found around the club. How do you deal with this?
For now, we’re just talking about replaying athletics. I start from afar, there are very few people who think I can, and I have no pressure. I know myself, if it turns out that I have to return to the field, I will not play the clown. If I come back, it’s 200% to get what I can for the team and the club.
If I could go back, it would be on the third line. How do you deal with this conversion?
It’s another rugby game. It’s so much fun, it forced me to pay attention to the front game. I saw them do it but that wasn’t what interested me the most. But in the races you have to be as efficient as possible and there is also a lot of repetition of tasks. It’s much more heart disease than back. At eight, in Lyon, Pierre gave me a lot of freedom. Not only was I with the attackers, I could play in the back as well. It really makes the connection. I loved him so mach.
In addition to returning to the field, we are also invoking a role with the youth. what about?
She was close to my heart. I have also registered for DE (Diploma of the State), I will do it over 2 years in Aix-en-Provence. When we spoke with Pierre about a possible comeback, I offered him my desire to work with young people. For him, there was no problem. It has been well accepted by the members of the association as well. There, everyone’s still on vacation, but once I’m back at the club we’ll put things a little bit more, but it’s something really close to my heart.
Have you had this desire for a long time?
It happened gradually. I often have my friends from Massy to do a see with the guys from the training center, I love being in the transmission and getting involved. Young people in Krapus still have the desire to learn. They haven’t even gotten into the washing machine yet, when they want to go really fast. But I know myself, I don’t see myself doing this as a professional. Then I say it now…