Oupa opens up on mental-health issues

Cheetahs flank Oupa Mohoje says seeing a psychologist has made him a better person. 

Mahoje has not played rugby since suffering a serious knee injury during a Pro14 match against Munster in September 2018. 

The 29-year-old returned to training at the beginning of 2020 only for his knee to swell up again. Two weeks later, he had surgery and was ruled out for another six weeks.

During a Instagram Live chat with Cato Louw, Mohoje said he was finally ready to play again – 22 months after getting injured.

'If there was a game tomorrow, I'd be ready to play. I'm feeling good, it's just a matter of waiting for rugby to start again.

'I think it's to my advantage that we're all starting on the same slate [due to the lockdown] and I've got time to work on my fitness.

'I don't have to worry about my knee anymore, I just have to worry about my body being sore all the time, but that's a struggle I'd rather have.'

While Mahoje's injury rehab challenged him physically, he also had to deal with mental health issues.

'Thirteen months into my rehab, I decided to see a therapist,' he said.

'Questions about life after rugby start to creep up on you. You start thinking, "I'm about to turn 30, what if this is it [the end of his rugby career].

'I couldn't let these thoughts dominate my mind so I decided to go talk to somebody about it. I didn't know if it would help but thought there was no harm in trying.

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'I encourage everybody – not just rugby players – to go chat to a therapist. You get to know more about yourself and discover your purpose.

'I feel like a much better person now. I've learned to take things one day at a time.'