Not many people thought they would ever see this young man on a rugby field again. But now, after a miracle recovery and months of hard work, SA Schools, -u/19 and -u/20 star Wilton Pietersen has worked his way back onto the playing field.
Pietersen’s promising career was brought to a sudden halt in March 2009, when him and four friends were involved in a serious car accident in Bloemfontein. Days later he was still in a coma and with serious injuries his rugby career was looking like a thing of the past.
Now, a year and a half since the accident, Wilton is ready to grab his second chance with both hands and he is taking nothing for granted when he takes position at fullback for the Lions u/21 team against the Blue Bulls u/21 team at Loftus Versveld this Saturday.
Pietersen was born in Mosselbay on 10 March 1989. He attended Hoërskool Outeniqua in George where he also got chosen to represent SWD at the Craven Week and later got picked for the SA Schools squad in 2006.
After school Pietersen joined up with the Cheetahs where he first got picked for the SA u/19 squad and a year later, in 2008, for the SA u/20 squad who toured to Wales for the inaugural IRB Junior World Champs. Pietersen also became a regular in the Springbok’s Sevens squad.
After showcasing exceptional skills at fullback for the SA u/20 and Cheetahs u/21 teams, Pietersen became a regular starter for the senior Free State Cheetahs side in the Currie Cup before a knee injury sidelined him in early 2009. Pietersen was on the verge of making his comeback for the Cheetahs’ Vodacom Cup team and plans were already in place to include him in the Vodacom Cheetahs Super 14 squad when the accident happened.
Pietersen started his rehabilitation and early reports suggested that he will never play rugby again. Especially since he was struggling with his hand-eye coordination at the time.
After a few setbacks in his journey to recovery Pietersen made the decision to continue his rehabilitation and career at the Lions. A decision that has now come full circle for the young star when he will wear the number 15 jersey.
Another young star returning to action this weekend, in the same match as Pietersen, is Wandile Mjekevu.
Mjekevu got injured in the second week of the Lions’ 2010 Super 14 campaign but continued playing with the injury until the end of the Super 14 and also pushed through to represent the Baby Boks at the IRB Junior World Champs in Argentina. After the tournament his right knee got inflamed and he was forced to undergo surgery.
Mjekevu will start in the number 14 jersey for the u/21’s to get much needed game time and work his way back into the senior squad, a goal that Pietersen is working towards too.
Both players are excited to return to the playing field and some of their posts on the social networking site Twitter read:
Pietersen: “Cant wait to take on the bulls satrday(Saturday)”
Mjekevu: “Preparation is now complete… Time to rest up then fire.”
The Lions u/21 team faces the Blue Bulls u/21 side at 15h00 on Saturday at Loftus Versveld in Pretoria ahead of the senior Currie Cup teams.
Come Saturday all eyes will be on these two youngsters.
Fans can follow Wilton and Wandile on Twitter under the following usernames: