By Alex Bywater
Dragons centre Tyler Morgan has his mojo back after a season blighted by injury while unaware he was also battling symptoms of diabetes.
Morgan announced himself as one of Warren Gatland’s young stars in Wales’ run to the World Cup quarter-finals in 2015 but illness and injury contributed to him missing large parts of last season.
The 22-year-old suffered a severe ankle problem in October 2017 and then broke down again with a hairline fracture of his foot just four months later.
Morgan did not know he had diabetes but now believes his diagnosis has helped get to the bottom of his fitness problems.
“In May I wasn’t very well. I’d lost a lot of weight, and I had the main symptoms of having diabetes,” Morgan told The Rugby Paper. “I went to the team doctor and we did a medical test that day.
“I was told I had Type 1 diabetes and the doctors said there is a strong link between the condition and lower body injuries. It was nice to have an explanation as to why I had such a tough season with injuries, but the news was still a shock and it’s something I’ve just had to get used to.
“When I look back on last year, I definitely didn’t feel myself. I felt weak and tired and just a bit down in general. It had an impact on my injuries and recovery which hopefully I’m over now.”
Morgan has four Wales caps to his name and it’s easy to forget he started for Gatland’s side in their quarter-final clash with South Africa at RWC2015.
Since then injuries have hit hard and his last international cap came against Samoa in June 2017 before injury struck and he lost one and a half stone last season prior to official confirmation of his diagnosis.
“Diabetes is part of my life now,” he said. “Type 1 is when your pancreas doesn’t produce insulin. You have too much sugar in your blood, so you have to inject insulin and I take my blood three or four times a day. It tells me whether my blood sugar is too high or too low.
“If I’m too high, I inject insulin. If I’m too low, I drink sugary drinks or eat jelly babies. It’s quite easy to manage, but I have to stay away from puddings or cakes and high carbohydrates.”
Exeter centre Henry Slade and Worcester full-back Chris Pennell, left, also have Type 1 diabetes and Morgan is confident on getting back to his best.
“I lost about 10 kilos in two weeks last season and it happened very quickly but the doctor and the medical team at the Dragons have been great in checking up and I’d probably have lost my mind without all the people helping me.
“Now I’m taking insulin I’m back to my normal weight and hopefully my normal performance will follow now too.”
Morgan retains hope of earning a Wales recall but his immediate priority is securing regular rugby with the Dragons.
“I’m fit now and training fully,” said Morgan, who plans to be in contention for the PRO14 opener with Benetton on September 1.
“It was very frustrating year playing only a handful of games and it can be a dark place when you’re in the gym working by yourself. Now there is light at the end of the tunnel which makes it all worth it.
“We’ve got a big first block of four games with the Dragons and I can’t wait to get out there.”
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