Jun 17, 2012
Matt Toomua is a gifted goal-kicking flyhalf contracted with the CA Brumbies Super 15 team. 2012 was meant to be a year of opportunity for Toomua, hoping to finally put his stamp on the number 10 jersey after switching between 10 and 15 throughout 2011. This all came to a bitter end when Toomua ruptured his ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) during the Brumbies 29-26 loss to the Sharks earlier this season causing him to be sidelined for the entire season.
I caught up with Matt last week to ask him a few questions about how he was coping with his injury and rehabilitation.
What were your first thoughts when you injured your knee?
"I was devastated when I first injured my knee. I knew something wasn’t right as soon as I did it. I have injured most parts of my knee but this felt far worse"
Is this the worst injury you have suffered in your career? If so Why?
"Yeah this is the biggest injury I have had. It has caused me to miss pretty much the whole season. I broke my jaw in a couple places before, but it happened in the last game of the year and I didn’t have to miss any games"
Why did you choose to go with the traditional surgery method over the new LARS method which would have had you back playing sooner?
"The way our season is structured the LARS option would still have meant I would miss the entire season, so there wasn’t any benefit in choosing that option. Also the traditional surgery is far more tried and tested and because I am still only 22 years old, it seemed like the smartest option. My surgery was a little unique also. I injured my left knee and so traditionally the surgeon will take the hamstring out from the left knee and put it in the knee. However when the surgeon was operating he discovered my left hamstring was damaged, probably from an old injury, and wouldn't provide an adequate graft so he had to take the hamstring out of my right leg. So I got a big shock when I woke up and saw both my knees strapped. I thought they had operated on the wrong leg! The surgeon had to calm me down and tell me what had happened
What stage of your rehabilitation are you in now?
"I’m in the 9th week of rehab now. I have just begun movement patterns in the gymnastics centre with the padded floors and trampolines"
What motivates you to do your rehabilitation every day?
"Yeah this is a tough one. With such a long rehab time it’s hard to be motivated daily. I think having small goals helps you get through, with the bigger picture in mind. Because rugby is my profession I am constantly reminded that I am not on the field, but having other hobbies or things to do does help. I have my Uni work that keeps me busy and I am doing some barista courses also. I think having these other things helps keep me fresh and not dwell on the fact that it’s a long road"
Has there been one particular person that has been instrumental in helping you mentally deal with your injury?
"Our physio Hamish McCauley has been great. I work with him pretty much every day and he has been great for my physical rehab. Otherwise I have been lucky enough to have great friends and family who have supported me. Other players who have been through an ACL rupture have given me advice. Just yesterday Jeremy Paul (former wallaby) made the effort to give me some advice as he also tore his ACL in his playing days"
What is one thing you have learnt about yourself from suffering this injury?
"That I am a very impatient person! There's a slight humorous aspect to the fact that I am very impatient and I get an injury that causes me to sit on the sidelines for 9months! But I think it is character building. I am forced to pull the reigns in, so to speak, on many things. Currently I am in a danger period for my rehab where the hamstring graft is in its weakest point, but coupled with that I am getting increased range and feel pretty good. So it’s tough to have to hold back on a few things and just remember that it’s not worth risking anything
What are your plans for next year?
"I have re signed for the Brumbies for another 2 years so I will be back in Canberra again next year."
When are you coming back to play for the Beasties?
"I don’t know! I hope it is sooner rather than later. I always enjoy coming back and seeing everyone at the club. I will be back this week for ladies day against Sydney uni, so I’m looking forward to that!!"
Do you have any advice for other players that suffer this injury?
"It's kind of tough to answer this question because I feel I am not qualified to do so yet. Being that I am still only 9 weeks post surgery I have a long way to go. I guess what I have learnt in that time is the importance of a good physio and setting small goals. Having those goals in sight allows me keep motivated and know that I am working towards something and not just training for the sake of it."
Check out the injury information section to find out more about ACL injuries.