Comeback kid Taj Burrow has revealed he suffered an ACL tear on his 40th birthday, but he’s ready to strut his stuff when Rottnest Island makes its World Surf League debut.
A string of injuries to some of the world’s best surfers has opened the door for Burrow to make a one-off return to the main tour.
Burrow retired in 2016 after a glittering career that saw him win 12 WSL events and finish in the top four of the title race on a remarkable nine occasions, which included runner-up placings in 1999 and 2007.
At 42 years of age and five years into retirement, Burrow is viewing the upcoming Rottnest Search as a chance to catch up with old mates and have fun in the surf rather than push for a remarkable tour victory.
And Burrow is just happy to be fully fit again after his knee setback two years ago.
“I did my ACL on my 40th birthday. I just blew the thing to pieces,” Burrow told AAP.
“I wasn’t doing a radical move, it was just a three-foot wave up north, just a basic floater manoeuvre and I just landed really awkwardly.
“I did everything I could to get it back going in my recovery, and I managed to turn it around in six months, and it feels completely normal now.”
WSL organisers invited Burrow to compete at the Rottnest Search after fellow Australian Adrian Buchan pulled out with a back injury.
Two-time world champion John John Florence flew home during the recent Margaret River Pro after injuring his knee, while 11-time world champion Kelly Slater missed the Australian swing completely due to a foot injury.
Brazilians are dominating the men’s title race, with Gabriel Medina, Italo Ferreira, and Filipe Toledo filling out the top three spots.
Burrow will be up against Ferreira and Adriano de Souza in the first round, with the action to get underway on Sunday if conditions permit.
In the women’s title race, Australia’s seven-time world champion Stephanie Gilmore moved up to third spot following her runner-up display at the Margaret River Pro.
Fellow Australians Tyler Wright (fifth) and Sally Fitzgibbons (sixth) are also well and truly in the hunt to secure a top-five spot and a spot in the WSL Finals.
Brazilian Tatiana Weston-Webb, who beat Gilmore in the Margaret River Pro final, sits in second spot, with four-time world champion Carissa Moore on top of the rankings.