Nothing beats a few good comeback stories.

18 June 2024, Tuesday

Whether it’s in business, sport or life, nothing beats a few good comeback stories – feel good stories .

In sport it all happens transparently – and consumes our human emotions in a uniquely South African way.

South Africans loved watching ‘Chasing the Sun’.

It was a real feel good movie.

Watching Rassie Erasmus take a team that was thrashed 57- 0 in Albany, New Zealand in September 2017 to World Champions in November 2019, was special for all of us.

Then how about the story within that story.

The personal comeback story of one of our rugby world cup heroes, Makazole Mapimpi.

After a few scintillating seasons with the Kings and Cheetahs, he found himself in Durban, but unable to hold down his place in the Sharks first choice team.

By his own admission he was struggling with parts of his defensive game – maybe even a little fatigued from playing a few seasons in under strength teams.

But, what a first class team bloke – on and off the field of play.

He put his head down hard and went to work on his defensive weaknesses.

Rassie knew from early on that he had found one of his Rugby World Cup secret weapons.

He had found one of his game – changers.

However there was a problem brewing for Rassie as the Super 16 season unfolded.

Mapimpi was back to his very best in the 2019 Super 16.

My favourite live Kings Park moment – is when with a twinkle in his eye and a little smile – he left three Lions backline players in the dust.

The Lions players knew they had no chance of cutting him off and he cruised in to dot the ball down from seventy meters out.

Local players knew all about his blistering pace, but I’m sure Rassie did not want ‘too much of that’ to be shown to others prior to RWC’19.

It all turned out well in Japan.

For those coaching him, and Shark fans, it was no surprise as to how well he did in Japan – becoming the first Springbok to score in a Rugby World Cup final.

Now he is playing under ace coach Johan Ackermann in Japan – on loan – and he will be back to play for the Sharks next year – and the Boks.

Just how good can Makazole become?

A South African hero on and off the field of play.

In business, it’s a little different when it comes to turnaround stories.

South African CEO’s play it all a lot closer to the chest, so most things get done behind closed board room doors.

But, thanks to JSE listing requirements, there is always a small window to see what is happening.

Recently we have seen some spectacular comebacks – all involve leaders making the required changes – and going in to fix what their predecessors ‘messed up’.

South Africa has some fine ‘turnaround’ leaders.

On most people’s lips is the recent comeback story of Sasol under the leadership of CEO Fleetwood Grobbler, who took over the reins in November 2019.

But, here are three less transparent stock market ‘darlings’ who have all seen their share prices rocket back in the past few months.

How about Tongaat, under Gavin Hudson and few ex brewery boys. Yes, they may still be learning about sugar and property, but they are making a big impact already – their share price jumping from a low of R2 in April this year to over R12 today.

How about Adcorp, under new CEO Phil Roux, who took the reins in April 2019.Their share price, is up from a low of R1.30 in October’20 to now over R6.00.

Then how about struggling cement maker PPC, under CEO Roland van Wijnen. Their share price more than doubling in the last month as they revamp and reposition themselves to take advantage of post Covid infrastructure investment by government.

All these SA comeback stories show us that:

the time’s they are a- changin’

We as South Africans must be sure not to miss out on the biggest comeback story of all – one that is now happening right before our eyes.

Yes, it’s happening finally.

Brand South Africa is on a steep turnaround path.

Welgedaan President Cyril Ramaphosa, who has toiled relentlessly to reverse the damage done over the past decade.

The tide has turned.

South Africa is well positioned to surprise the world – and even ourselves.

The podiums are empty.

We as fellow South African citizens now need ‘to step up to the plate’ – and play our role together.



Go Great


PS: IF you would like a complimentary copy of my recently published eBook: CHAMPIONS DO MORE  please send me an email request.

Email to :

Read more :


Rob shares topical weekly insights, innovation and inspiration on business, sport & life.

Subscribers get plenty of free offers from THE GAME PLAN

Don’t miss out. Subscribe today.

It’s 100% Mahala. FREE.

[col type=”one-half”] [/col] [col type=”one-half col-last”] Signup to our newsletter!


Rob Opie is a Brand Strategist, Keynote Speaker, Author, Performance Consultant to Business & Sports Teams – and Life Coach to those on a journey to self-actualisation.

His game- changing THE GAME PLAN METHOD, is helping both teams and individuals throughout South Africa to achieve their greatest potential.