Tom Smith has returned to the training paddock after missing the entire 2012/13 season with injury vowing to make up for lost time.
The 27-year old back rower picked up a groin injury in pre-season last summer, a problem that eventually ruled him out for the campaign, and hasn’t featured in an Ospreys shirt since the 45-10 win over Munster in the 2012 PRO12 play-off semi-final.
Now, with preparations for the coming season well underway, Smith is set to challenge for a place in the line-up for the opening game of the new league season which is less than two months away having successfully come through a week of rugby sessions with no lasting after-effect.
“It’s nice to be back out there with the boys” said Smith.
“It’s been a long time out of the first team environment for me so it’s good to be involved again and getting a rugby ball in my hands at last.
“It was a tough injury to get my head round as there was no time frame at the start of it. It started off with me thinking I’d be back in time for the start of the season, but the return to play date kept on rolling on and before I knew it, the season had come and gone and I’d missed a whole year.
“It was tough to deal with, but I suppose it’s just one of those things that comes with the job unfortunately.”
Smith has been a permanent fixture at Llandarcy throughout the summer, continuing his rehab while the rest of the core group spent May on holiday, working closely with the region’s medical team to ensure he was ready to go when the squad returned for pre-season.
“I was glad to be able to come in and do some work as I could see some progress and start to see the light at the end of the tunnel” he continued.
“Not having played any games for so long my body is in pretty good condition generally, it’s had time to get over the knocks and bumps you get every week so it wasn’t as though I had to recover after a long season was it?
“It’s been a very frustrating time for me and I couldn’t have got through it without the support of the physios here, in particular Brian O’Leary who I’ve spent a lot to time working closely with. He’s pulled me through and got me into some kind of shape. If it was frustrating for me it was doubly frustrating for him, but I’m extremely grateful to him and the other physios for all their help over the last year.”
Smith, who is just nine games away from joining the exclusive band of Ospreys centurions, has enjoyed being back involved in rugby sessions and is now hoping to impress the coaches enough over the coming weeks to pick up where he left off almost 14 months ago. He said:
“It’s a bit of a shock to the system as a lot of the boys have found out over the years when coming back from a long-term injury. I’m not going to complain about it though, I’m glad to be back, being in the team environment.
“I’m dying to get stuck back into it properly, desperate to be back playing and hopefully get into some kind of form in pre-season so that I can challenge for a place when the league starts in September.
“I’ll be trying my hardest to get my way back into the side. I realise that some boys have a head start on me because of the way they played last season but I can’t worry about that. If I want to get back into the jersey I’ve got to enjoy my rugby and really give it everything.”