SCOTLAND’S Rugby World Cup preparations have been handed a boost with the news that centre Alex Dunbar is “quite confident” of being fit in time to play at the showpiece event.
When Dunbar ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee back in March the initial diagnosis was that he would be out of action for between six and nine months.
To make the World Cup is the goal I have got and I am quite confident about itAlex Dunbar
A recovery time towards the latter end of that scale would have certainly meant the Glasgow Warriors man, 25, missing the World Cup in England and Wales in September and October.
However, Dunbar has just returned from three weeks in Philadelphia working with Bill Knowles – a world-renowned expert in reconditioning who has worked with athletes at the top level – and his return to fitness is on track.
Speaking at BT Murrayfield yesterday, Dunbar said: “To make the World Cup is the goal I have got and I am quite confident about it, but I still know at the back of my mind that there is a long way to go before I am back fully fit and on the pitch.
“I just have to take it week by week and hope the injury keeps progressing well.
“It would be a dream come true to play in my first World Cup. I started playing professional rugby at the end of the last one [in 2011] so it is something I have been working hard at for the last three or four years to try to get myself to this stage.
“With the injury and everything that has happened in the last few months, it would be even more of a dream to be involved.”
When the injury initially happened while Scotland were training in the build-up to the Six Nations match against England at Twickenham, Dunbar was not sure quite how bad it was. “We were just warming up, going through a couple of plays and I tried to change direction ever so slightly and I slid to the side and fell to the ground,” he said.
“That was it – it was just a weird feeling. My knee gave way to the side and 15 minutes later it was stiff and the other muscles had switched on to compensate. I didn’t know how serious it was as I could walk on it, but very quickly I got an MRI scan and within half an hour I realised I had ruptured my ACL.
“I got the operation the week later and I was quite numb and did not know what to do with myself for the next couple of weeks.
“I had never had a long-term injury, so it was quite tough to take at the start, but once I could get back into doing some drills and some basic rehab, getting in the pool and stuff, I felt good.”
Three and a half weeks ago Dunbar, who has 14 Scotland caps to his name, flew to the United States to link-up with the well thought of Knowles.
He spent a fortnight working with him alone and then another week with Knowles and other athletes and Dunbar has returned from that trip feeling in a good place about his recovery.
He said: “Bill had obviously worked with Jonny Wilkinson, Tiger Woods and lots of skiers in the past, there is quite a long list of sportsmen and women he has helped so I was excited to go over there.
“I wouldn’t say he does anything too different to others, but he is incredibly positive.
“He just concentrates on doing things really well and it helped a lot being out there. I got back up to normal running, change-of-direction stuff and the strength I have built up in my legs over the last three weeks has really helped.”
Dunbar has an appointment with the specialist who performed his operation in London in a fortnight and is hoping to build up to contact training during August.