Scotland No.8 Cornell du Preez has revealed that he’s only felt back to full strength this season after suffering the lingering affects of an ankle break which threatened to end his career.
The South African-born player suffered the injury while turning out for club side Edinburgh in a match against Newport Gwent Dragons in 2014.
After two surgeries and six months out, du Preez was given the all clear to return. However, he would often suffer discomfort during training and had to live with the concern that he may suffer another horrible injury.
Almost four years later, he no longer feels pain in the area and this has enabled his confidence to grow.
With the Six Nations right around the corner, the 26-year-old, who qualifies for Scotland through residency, is raring to make an impact for his adopted nation having made his first start just last November in the 22-17 defeat to the All Blacks.
He told the Daily Mail: “Since my injury, a lot of things have been going through my head.
“One is that I know that I am not going to take the opportunity to play the game for granted. I just really appreciate it every time I get to go on the field at the weekend.
“Part of the reason for that is that there was a lot of talk that I might never play again, because of the seriousness of the ankle break.
“I was 23 at the time, so still young, with my whole career ahead of me and I wasn’t ready to let it go.
“I was out for about six months before I was told that everything looked all right and I could get on with my career.
“But the seriousness of the injury was something I had to get around mentally, too. I had to accept I might be sore sometimes but would have to cope with it. It took me time to adapt to that and get used to the fact that it sometimes kept hurting.
“Things have improved and I said to Gregor Townsend that this is probably the first season when I can say I am training without worrying and without my ankle being sore all the time.”