A pre-season knee injury has forced Stormers and Springbok centre Juan de Jongh to begin the season on the sidelines. He chats to us about his injury, his plans for the season and how he connects with his fans via Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
How’s the knee?
It’s coming along nicely. I had an operation about three weeks ago and it looks like everything is on track. I’ll probably be out of action for another three weeks or so I will miss the first three or four games of the season.
It must have been really frustrating to catch that injury just as Vodacom Super Rugby was about to kick off...
We are desperate for a good start to the season after not having the greatest of starts last year and I am disappointed that I won’t be there for it. It is really frustrating for this to happen now because I was ready for a big year, but I believe everything happens for a reason. I was also injured at the start of last year, but luckily this time around I won’t be on the sidelines for quite so long. Weeks are better than months when you’re injured and the year is only starting now, so I’m keeping my spirits high.
Obviously your focus is firstly to get back onto the field and then do well for the Stormers. But next year is a World Cup year. Is a place in the Springbok team somewhere in the back of your mind?
Yes it is, but it’s way in the back of my mind. I can’t afford to put any energy into that; I need to focus on the things that I can control right now. Like doing everything to get my knee in shape again. A lot can happen before the World Cup and all I can do is to make a hundred percent sure that I give my absolute best when I start to play again, not only for myself but also for my team who I care about deeply. What happens from here is in God’s hands.
You are really active on social media through your official MyPlayers fan page on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. What do you get out of it?
For me it’s important to give back to our supporters and to the community who pack out our stadium every weekend. It’s just to give them a better understanding of who I am and to bring them closer to the players. It’s great that we can do it for them though technology and have some interaction.
You’re a role model for thousands. Have you ever typed up a tweet only to delete it when you realise that it might not be wise?
Yes, definitely. A few players, especially the overseas guys, landed themselves in trouble after tweeting something they shouldn’t have, so you have to be careful. It comes with the territory, I suppose. It comes down to the realisation that you are in the public eye so you have to double-check everything you do.
What is your favourite social media platform?
I’m most active on Twitter and Instagram, and to a lesser degree on Facebook. Different supporters use different platforms and I try to get to them all, so it’s about striking a balance. It’s difficult to interact with everyone and I do try and read all the messages.
How do you deal with the abuse that sports people inevitably suffer?
You don’t get involved. There are some funny people out there but you try and stay above it. I take full responsibility for my actions, but I don’t like it when people get personal and abusive. I try to stay out of it then.
Who are your top five must-follows on social media?
I quite enjoy (Stormers teammate) Damian de Allende on Instagram and Twitter, and Siya Kolisi is also quite busy. I also enjoy Digby Ioane and my great friend Elton Jantjies is very active on Instagram. And then everyone should follow Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather purely for the entertainment.
Are you a tech junkie?
Technology makes your life a lot easier and I enjoy having the gadgets that bring people closer to me. I have all the cool stuff and I am loving my iPhone 5 at the moment.
What are your favourite apps?
The games I enjoy the most are Cut the Rope and Stick Golf.