World No.3 Julian Wilson is feeling no pressure to return from injury suffered in his new “second home” of Newcastle in time for the championship tour opener at Snapper Rocks next month.
And the 29-year-old believes missing the event would not hurt his chances of again featuring in the world title race.
For the past decade, the Coolum surfer has used the first major event of the season to raise awareness and funds for the Breast Cancer Foundation through wearing pink boardshorts or using a pink board.
His mother, Nola, has twice beaten breast cancer and Wilson has helped raise more than $100,000 to continue the wider battle.
Wilson, though, is in doubt for the March 11-22 Gold Coast Pro and potentially the other Australian legs, at Bells Beach and Margaret River, after hurting his shoulder in a mountain bike fall at Glenrock State Conservation Area in Highfields last Friday week.
He ruptured his AC joint and was unsure if he would be fit for Snapper Rocks.
“I’m going to try, I’ll definitely be trying my best to compete there, but it just depends how my rehab goes,” Wilson said. “I’m going to have to take it week by week, but if I’m competing there, I’ll have the pink boardshorts and pink board to raise awareness around breast cancer.
“It’s the ninth year I’ve done the pink boardshorts and the total is getting healthy and it’s great to get the support.”
Wilson was injured while spending five weeks in the Hunter over the holiday season as he and wife, Newcastle model Ashley Osborne, prepare for the arrival of their first child.
Coming off his best year on the CT, Wilson was confident he could again challenge the likes of two-time champion John John Florence for the world title, despite the injury. In determining world title places, each surfer’s worst two performances of the season are not counted.
“I had one average result, at Margaret River, out of the Australia leg last year, so I didn’t have a great start but obviously was still able to be well and truly in the world title race, so I’m not feeling an extreme pressure to be pushing the shoulder to be at Snapper,” he said. “I’ve just got to make sure I get it back to a healthy, strong position to go give the rest of the year a good crack.”
Wilson said the shoulder was improving but there was no time-frame for a return.
“I think it’s quite a common football and cycling injury,” he said. “Not too many people know what level it needs to be at to be able to surf, because of the movement you need, so I’ll have to see how it goes. But it’s improved. It’s settled down quite a bit and I’m not having to wear the sling as much.”
“You’re pretty reliant on that joint so I’m going to have to see how I go.”