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21.08.2015, 10:20
Knee vs Heart – Which will lead Jurkiewicz’s battle against time?
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INTERVIEW OF THE WEEK: Kielce's summer signing speaks about his road to recovery and desire to get onto the court for the VELUX EHF Champions League and EHF EURO 2016
 

Knee vs Heart – Which will lead Jurkiewicz’s battle against time?

One of the most significant transfers this summer featured Mariusz Jurkiewicz. The driving force of perennial Polish runners up Orlen Wisła Płock moved to their eternal opponent, KS Vive Tauron Kielce. Since the decision was made last year, the back court ace sustained a serious injury – he raptured his anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments.

The diagnosis sounded like a sentence, but the “Duck”, as he is nicknamed in Poland has no intention of giving up. With help from his therapists, teammates and coach, the player started his battle against time. At stake there is not only the upcoming season in club contests but also the EHF EURO 2016 on home court.

On the first training of his new team, Mariusz Jurkiewicz shared with ehfcl.com his hopes and fears connected with the recovery, impressions about the move and thoughts about the VELUX EHF Champions League new formula.

ehfcl.com: You look great in yellow! Now when you are on the right side of the force there is a chance to become the Polish champion, as you have not gained the title yet.

Mariusz Jurkiewicz: Thank you (laugh)! Yes, I’ve got only silver medals. The double crown in Poland is both mine and the club’s goal, but I also hope that this season we will be able to be a part of the (VELUX EHF) FINAL4 again and that we will finally pass to the final and try to win. This is a big, big dream for each of us and we will work together to achieve that.

ehfcl.com: Your transfer to Kielce draws parallels to Niklas Landin’s move to Kiel. After being runners up in domestic contest again and again, there comes a decision to join the champions.

Mariusz Jurkiewicz: Maybe not only the Polish Championship is my motivation, because we’ve got more serious goals ahead of us, like the Champions League mentioned. It would be great to finally achieve the longed-for success. We would be the first Polish team that won the Champions League then. It would be beautiful and in the future, after many, many years we could pleasantly recall these times (laugh).

ehfcl.com: What do you think about the VELUX EHF Champions League’s new format?

Mariusz Jurkiewicz: Actually I am a bit surprised that such revolution happened. Yes, we should call it a revolution. From my point of view, playing in groups consisted of six teams was a clear system understandable for everyone. There was a lot to explain while implementing the new formula. Eight teams in these groups, six in those, six teams advances from these ones and from those only two, who plays against who?

However, from a fan’s point of view it’s a great idea! Lots of excellent matches and teams – that’s a real deal for spectators.

ehfcl.com: After two years break you are reuniting with Talant Dujshebajev. Has he changed since the time you trained under his wings in Atletico Madrid?

Mariusz Jurkiewicz: I still need a bit of time to judge if he has changed (laugh). What I remembered about him from Spain is that he was bringing out the best in us. He focused on our assets and made them even better. He didn’t expect from me shots in the style of Karol Bielecki, because he knew that I wasn’t able to do that. However, he improved my already good elements like one-by-one play or tying up the defence and passing the ball forward. And this is exactly what kind of man Talant is. He always focuses on your best and makes this even better.

ehfcl.com: What about another Spanish coach, you have just parted with, Manolo Cadenas? Any common qualities with Talant, comparing their training systems?

Mariusz Jurkiewicz: Definitely the pre-season are very similar. The gym, jogging in the morning – this was what I faced also cooperating with Manolo. Of course many coaches use such practices, but this is about nuances, specific for the Spaniards, Germans or Scandinavians. Admittedly, I haven’t worked with all of these nations so far, but I heard a lot from other players, that’s how I know it.

ehfcl.com: Both coaches start the preparations quite late, at the turn of July and August. It’s their common point here in Poland too.

Mariusz Jurkiewicz: Sure! It’s also connected with the calendar. They say that you need about six, seven weeks of hard work before the season. In Spain we were starting a little bit earlier because we had a firm beginnings with the super cup. All three years while I played for Ciudad Real and Atletico Madrid we were taking on Barcelona and we needed to be in good shape for this. Here, in Poland, we don’t have such a contest, so we build our form for later, especially for the Champions League.

ehfcl.com: Let us speak about your form. How do you feel right now?

Mariusz Jurkiewicz: After two and a half months since the surgery everything is going exactly how we expected right before starting rehabilitation. I am satisfied with the progress I have made. Soon I will have tests which should tell me in which shape my leg is. This means that I’m not going to accompany my teammates during the preparations, also for the camp in the Bieszczady mountains. This week I’m coming back to Gdansk, where I’ll continue my work.

ehfcl.com: Aren’t you tempted by the court to finally enter it?

Mariusz Jurkiewicz: During the holidays I held on somehow (laugh). But now, when I’m watching the guys training, my heart pushes me on the floor. However, my leg chains me to the exercise bike. Thus it will take me some time to join the team.

ehfcl.com: When do you think you will be able to join the boys in regular trainings and play?

Mariusz Jurkiewicz: Answering this question now would be like reading the tea leaves. Probably November, but I don’t know how my knee will react on typical handball burdens. Each effusion will stop the rehabilitation and consequently prolong this whole comeback process. Nothing will be done on the spur of the moment. I can’t say “Naah, ok, no matter what, 15 November I’m back on the court. You can’t risk it in such a situation.

ehfcl.com: Certainly, as not only is the Champions League at stake but so is the most important event in each Polish player's career – EHF EURO 2016. Is there a chance that you will be ready for the challenge?

Mariusz Jurkiewicz: There is a chance – that’s what I stick to. Whether the chance is big is hard to say, because it’s a really complicated process. In order to play in the EURO, firstly I need to play for the club. But everything has to go well; I cannot have tiniest swelling on my knee after any game, to go in for the next one.

The EURO is a very intensive tournament. Match day, free day, match day, free day… It’s the hardest contest and costs a lot of effort. That’s why it’s also possible that I won’t be able to perform, but I shut such thoughts out. I’m doing my best to appear on the court in November again and fight to be in shape for the championship.


TEXT: Magda Pluszewska / cor
 
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