A frenzy of speculation ensued today after the WSL released this clip:
— World Surf League (@wsl) September 6, 2016
After earlier reports of JJF playing down his post-Tahiti injury, this news comes as a last minute concern to many, including the fantasy surfing community, many of which are backing him to win the event.
And for good reason. The current world number one goes into the Trestles event with a fresh yellow jersey, an AHS second only to Mick, and some enviable form (he has been in 3 out of the last 4 finals). His star is obviously on the rise.
Or perhaps WAS on the rise. It's hard to speculate through all the hearsay. John himself half-jokingly states he may only be surfing at 85%, which on the scorecard is still enough to win most heats, but there'll be challenges when facing off against the likes of Medina or Fanning or Filipe.
No one wants to be less than 100% when sparring with the top seeds. There is so little between them, any edge they can get over their opponent may just be vital. You can guarantee the likes of Gabriel Medina will be eating up todays news like a hot breakfast. The talk of an end of year showdown with Gabs and JJF has been a hot topic since day one, and John John's news is now more fuel to the fire.
But then there is the argument that John may just pull a Fanning (a la J-Bay) and go out there all loosey-goosey and just take the whole thing out, despite injury concerns. But if you're going to argue that point then be prepared to face opposite response, which is that of Jordy Smith (also J-Bay, 2015) going into the event with an injury, and subsequently surfing a succession of abysmal heats.
So who is John John? Is he a Mick? Or is he a Jordy?
Unfortunately, no one can answer. So far our reports are he is not out there surfing Lowers just yet, but we will endeavour to keep you posted of any late-breaking news. Stay tuned.