Being injured sucks! Not just because you miss out on all the tours. No it sucks because you end-up working harder than you did during the season! I have been playing non-stop for almost three years and have certainly been on the go since the final stages of the Top 14, pre the 2011 World Cup. I am not complaining, it was all my choice and what an adventure it has been.
The problem with playing non-stop is at some point your body finally stops working as you want it to. Having been a professional rugby player since I was 17 has meant the end of every season being taken up with a tour of some description. Whether it was the heady days of the England U19s or touring South Africa with the senior team.
This is made worse by my predisposition to not being able to sit still: I have always counted doing extra training of some variety, as a rest. Not particularly clever or overly good for the body. The old adage “less is more” springs to mind. So all my thoughts of relaxing over the summer has been pulled apart like an anti-UKIP policy.
So I have finally broken down! I have tendinitis, which in common parlance is wear and tear and not easy to fix. They sometimes call it jumper’s knee, which has a massive impact on your mobility, dynamism and, funnily enough, your ability to jump.
So I am taking the three months until the start of the new season to get myself fighting fit and in some sort of shape in order to be able to compete with the plethora of young back row talent springing out of every piece of Wasps woodwork.
The likes of Sam Jones and Ashley Johnson – Ashley, actually not so young, has just had a haircut which makes him look like a young Tracy Chapman, as opposed to looking like Mr Soul Glow, from the film Coming To America.
It’s been disappointing not to play much for Wasps post Six Nations, but I have been struggling to get back to the kind of fitness I feel necessary to do myself and the team justice. With tendinitis you can try and battle through. Taking a rest, then wheeling yourself out for a game, which I have been doing for a while, but with the prospect of some time to rest and to do my rehab, I had to take it. Although trust me if England or the Lions had called, you would have seen me doing my best to get up and leap around.
You end up doing far more work when you are injured than any other time during the season, which adds insult to injury. The thought of putting your feet up, being waited on hand and foot, till mummy’s little soldier is better, just does not register.
After surgery there is always something you can be doing to cut down on your return time to playing. Rehab is often tedious and long, but it has to be done. You then have all the other training aspects on top of this, like weights, skills, conditioning and pool work.
An insight into what I am doing every day: Get into the club around 07.45 every morning and perform a foam rolling and mobility circuit. It’s like lying on a hard piece of drain pipe, finding the bits that hurt in the muscles and then putting all your weight through it, until it eases off. Sounds lovely I know!
Around 10.00, I am onto my posterior chain circuit, which focuses on hamstrings, glutes and calves. After lunch at 13.30, I either do an off-feet section like a watt bike or versa climber or some upper body work. 15.00 involves a pool session.
As you can see it’s a whole load of fun. Why ever would you want to be lying on a beach somewhere in the sun?
There is an awesome squad of young players going to Argentina, especially in the back row. I am really looking forward to seeing how Matt Kvesic and Billy V get on against the blue and white stripes. Argentina are a powerful force in the rugby world and not easy to play against.
They combine that abrasive physicality with a great level of ball-playing skill. What makes this trip even more interesting is the hostile nature of the environment.
I have played a couple of times in Argentina, once with the U21 and once with the full team. The St George’s flag is not popular there for various reasons. All these elements come together to create a cauldron of intensity and passion. For once, I will get a chance to sit on the sofa and watch the games as a fan. That is if I am not in the gym or on the physio couch!
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