Tom Smith has vowed that he will return from shoulder surgery "bigger and stronger".
It rounds off a disappointing period for a player who had established himself as a core member of the Ospreys squad during 2009, making 20 appearances for the region during the calendar year.
Since the turn of the year however he has spent more time on the treatment table than on the pitch, suffering torn hip muscles and damaged knee ligaments which kept him out for more than two months, before opting for summer surgery to repair his shoulder.
Now that the shoulder is on the mend, he says he’s looking forward to working hard in rehab: “I had the op six weeks ago now and I’m just about ready to come out of my sling and start some gentle rehab. It’s just the first stage of the recovery really, once I’ve got back into the swing of things in rehab, started building it back up, then it’s estimated to be about four months or so from here.
“There was no big moment when it happened, it was just a gradual niggle that got worse, and became more and more unstable. A couple of knocks I had towards the end of the season just meant that it was at a stage where something had to be done. I could still play, which means that in truth I’ve taken a step back now by having the op, but it had to be done and this was the right time to do it. Having it when I did has meant that I can make the best use of the summer, and the recovery period doesn’t clash too much with the season.”
Smith acknowledges that his injury woes have come at a bad time for him, given the impact he was starting to make in an Ospreys shirt, but he insists that his frustration will drive him to return to action fired up.
“2009 was very good for me” he said “I had a good run of games at the end of the previous season and the start of last season and I really think I was starting to establish myself.
“This injury coming at the end of the season has probably increased that sense of frustration a little bit but I’m looking forward to getting back as soon as I can and hopefully, 2011 will be a better year for me than 2010.
“You have to expect setbacks like this as a professional rugby player. How you bounce back defines you as a player I suppose. I’ll dig in, work hard, and I think that I’m the type that’ll stay upbeat through the inevitable downbeat moments you get when you’re on the long term injury list. There’s a good medical team here, who work hard to make sure there’s a good spirit among the injured boys so we’re all in this together.
“It’s going to be a long haul back to regular rugby but I’m sure that I can come back bigger and stronger.”