VIDEO: Hogg just 'sucked it up' during horrendous isolation
TOUR SPOTLIGHT: British and Irish Lions fullback Stuart Hogg knows all about setbacks and overcoming them.
Hogg, who will captain the tourists in their match against the Stormers in Cape Town on Saturday, took an early flight home from the B&I Lions’ tour of New Zealand in 2017.
Fancied as the fullback for the Tests against the All Blacks, a collision with teammate Conor Murray in a match against the Crusaders caused a fractured facial bone – forcing him to return home.
The 29-year-old has just rejoined the team at their base in Cape Town, after having spent seven days in isolation – having been in close contact with a COVID-positive member of the support staff.
Hogg was unable to travel with the rest of the team when they relocated from Johannesburg to Hermanus, about 120km down the coast south of Cape Town, on Sunday, joining the squad again only on Wednesday.
It is the second occasion Hogg will skipper the Lions – as he previously took on the responsibility for the first match on South African soil against Johannesburg-based Lions on July 3, a week after he was only chosen on the replacements bench for the Premiership Final with Exeter.
The seasoned Scottish back is keen to emphasise his value to B&I Lions coach Warren Gatland this weekend – ahead of the July 24 series opener versus the Springboks.
“The key was to get into a good routine,” said Hogg about his week-long experience of being holed up in a Johannesburg hotel, awaiting the all-clear from the medics to rejoin the Lions squad in Cape Town.
“It’s a long old time to be hidden away.
“Getting my routine sorted and making sure I was as productive as I possibly could, seemed to pass the time a lot quicker.
” It was challenging at times.
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” We had a mini-isolation group and had a good bit of craic along the way and kept each other going.
” I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy.
“Honestly, it was a horrendous few days but I am delighted to be back.
“It became a little bit easier once the boys and everybody in the touring party left [Johannesburg].
“We got a little bit of time to spend in the gym and managed to sanitise it about a million times when we were in there.
“I got a chance to do everything I possibly could.
“I was carrying a little knock after a training session but I’m all good now and excited to get going again.”
Meanwhile, he also opened up about the injury setback four years ago, which ended his tour in New Zealand.
“It’s something I’ve kept quiet about and almost to myself for a long time,” he said.
“I had been playing some good rugby and to have that taken away from me was certainly disappointing.
“It probably took me a good year-and-a-half, two years to get over it and get back and running and to get excited about playing rugby.
“I kept it to myself, but my focus all along was to make sure to give myself every opportunity to represent the Lions again. Now that I am here, I am making the most of it.”