Johan Goosen says he is delighted to be back at the Cheetahs after coming out of ‘retirement’.
Goosen announced his ‘retirement’ in December 2016, while still contracted to French club Racing 92, and returned to South Africa to take up a job as a commercial director at a saddle-horse stud farm in Bloemfontein.
After much speculation, he has now officially come out of ‘retirement’ to join Montpellier, whose owner Mohed Altrad agreed to buy out his contract with Racing for €1.5-million (R22-million).
The Cheetahs have confirmed Goosen will train with their squad before his return to France in June and may be selected for their remaining Pro14 matches.
In an interview with OFM, Goosen admitted he was in a bad space after his ‘retirement’.
‘That was a bad time in my life, but I feel like a new person now and I am just so happy everything has been sorted out and I’m allowed to play again,’ he said.
The 25-year-old expressed his gratitude to the Cheetahs for allowing him back into their setup and says he hopes to repay them in some way.
‘Coach Franco Smith is giving me an opportunity to train with the Cheetahs and I’m sure after my long absence from the game, I can learn a few new things from him and his team. If I can teach the younger guys a thing or two in return, I’d be happy to.
‘I played in Europe, so I have a fairly good idea of how to play in those weather conditions. It’s not always easy, because much like the Cheetahs do now, I love to play a running game and throw the ball around. But when I was there, I learned a lot about game-management from guys like Dan Carter, who I played with for Racing. He made me think about and approach games differently, depending on the weather conditions we played in.’
When asked about the possibility of playing for the Cheetahs in their remaining Pro14 fixtures, Goosen was non-committal.
‘I want to be able to play at that level again, but there’s still a lot of hard work to be done before that happens. I have to get my fitness back to a high standard. For now, I’m enjoying being back in the Cheetahs environment and taking it day by day. They have a new culture now, but I still know most of the people here. It’s also close to the farm where my wife is. It’s just nice to be back.’
The Cheetahs are currently third in the Conference B standings, with matches against the Dragons, Cardiff Blues, Munster and Kings still to come.
Photo: Rob Jefferies/PhotoSport