Caldwell to miss 2011 Super 15 Rugby season

Waratahs lock Will Caldwell will spend season 2011 on the sidelines to concentrate on recovering from an illness which has hampered him for more than a year.

Caldwell, who with 76 appearances is the most-capped second rower in NSW Rugby history, was struck down with Crohn’s disease followed the South African leg of the 2009 Super 14 which completed the NSW season.

The illness stripped more than 20kg from the second rower’s frame and he failed to return to the field in 2009. However Caldwell worked hard to regain his strength during the off-season and returned in round one of the 2010 Super 14 against the Reds.

The following week he passed Tom Bowman as the most-capped NSW lock in Super Rugby history with his 54th tournament appearance.

Caldwell went on to play nine matches in 2010, however he has never fully been able to overcome the illness which has hindered his career for the past year.

“It’s been an extremely frustrating 18 months to say the least,” said Caldwell. “Personally, 2009 was probably the best season I’d had in professional Rugby and everything was moving in the right direction.

“The Crohn’s really knocked me around. I couldn’t do much at all, let alone play footy but I just kept working with the medical staff on trying to manage the symptoms and do the best I could.

“On top of that I had a bit of trouble with a hamstring in the pre-season so I couldn’t play the trials, but it was good to be back for round one.

“I believe we’ve stayed on top of it as much as we could, but it’s become pretty clear in the past few months that trying to battle Crohn’s and couple it with being a professional footballer isn’t ideal.

“Rather than spend another season trying to do both I’ve made the call to spend a season away from the game in 2011 and the Tahs have released me to be able to do that.

“From a team perspective I don’t want the guys worrying about carrying me if I’m not 100% which is exactly where you have to be in order to be competitive in this tournament.

“On a personal level it’ll give me the time to get as healthy as I can, and hopefully be in a position where I’ll be healthy and have a good base to come back from.”

Waratahs head coach Chris Hickey said the loss of Caldwell for 2011 was a blow to the squad.

“Will is a big part of the organisation both on and off the field so he’s certainly going to be missed next season,” said Hickey. “What’s most important for Will is to get on top of his health and worry about Rugby after that.

“It’s a big call from him to step away from the game for a year but he’s weighed up all of his options and believes it’s the best decision to make and we’re fully supportive of that.”

Caldwell added that he didn’t believe this was the end of his career.

“Far from it,” he said. “But this isn’t like an injury where there’s a defined period of time you know it will take before you’re back on the park.

“The best chance I have to get back to where I was at the start of 2009 is by stepping away from the game for a while, and hopefully I’ll be able to come back bigger and better.

“I want to make it back not only for my personal satisfaction but also to show other people out there suffering from this illness that the show can still go on.

“With management of certain triggers such as diet and stress you can recover and make it back. I proved that in part with my recovery to get back for the 2010 season but in the end the timeframe was a bit tight. If I’d had 5-6 months, this so-called illness would be in the background and managed properly would stay in the background, as proven by numerous players in the AFL and NRL.

“Stringent management is the key and a positive mindset will go a long way to getting me back on the paddock, and for many other people it’s what will help them get back on their feet, back to their day jobs or university, and

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