Defiant Harlequins hooker Rob Buchanan aims to prove he is a cut above the rest after revealing how close he came to quitting for a new career in butchery.
Buchanan, 27, thought his rugby days were over in early 2018 when, after damaging nerves in his neck during England’s pre-Argentina tour camp in 2017, his surgeon delivered the devastating news that he was unlikely to recover full strength in his throwing arm.
Food fanatic Buchanan took up the meat cleaver instead, training as a butcher in Twickenham before a final bout of surgery offered a second chance.
“I was pretty close to calling it quits,” says Buchanan, who returned to first team action against Clermont last month and has since carved it up in hard-hitting displays against Exeter and Leicester as Harlequins continue their bid for a play-off place.
“I got clocked on my jaw during England training for Argentina but injured my ankle anyway and didn’t think too much about it.
“But throughout pre-season my arm got progressively weaker and it reached a point where I couldn’t lift it to throw.
“Nerves in my neck were getting squished so I had surgery and then saw specialist after specialist. I had doctors and physios trying every trick in the book to get my nerves firing again but then the first surgeon declared that he didn’t think I’d play again.
“That was pretty devastating but my fiancée knew I liked food and came up with the idea of butchery. That worked out well for me and the guys at The Meat Rooms in Twickenham were brilliant in letting me train there before I then got a second chance with rugby.”
Buchanan explained: “I went under the knife again under a different surgeon in April last year and it’s been a long road, but I’ve managed to build up the muscles again and the guys at the club have supported me through the rehab so I could play.
“Paul Gustard (Quins head of rugby) has been awesome because it would have been very easy to say they couldn’t afford to keep me, but the club stood by me longer than they needed to and I’ve got one more season now to hopefully get a good run and hit form again.”
Of Harlequins trip to the Ricoh Arena this Satuday, Buchanan added: “It’s such a big game. At the beginning of the season everyone talked about getting in the top four and contending for trophies so if we really want to do that we’ve got to put in a performance at Wasps and then back it up.
“It’s been a baptism of fire since my comeback, playing against Clermont, Exeter and Leicester, but I’m just going in 100 per cent and love the physical challenge. Butchery’s on hold for the moment, I just want to make the most of this second opportunity.”
NEALE HARVEY / Photo: Getty Images
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