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Fitzgerald returns with new outlook

Luke Fitzgerald was reduced to tears when he first discovered the severity of his knee injury but now appreciates the way it has altered his outlook on rugby.

The elusive Ireland winger will make his first Test appearance in a year when he lines-up against South Africa at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.Twelve months ago he damaged the lateral collateral ligament of his left knee during the 20-20 draw with Australia.

"When I was told how significant the injury was on the night of the Australia game there were tears shed, I'm not ashamed of saying that," he said.

"I was upset because I thought it might be the end. I gathered myself and told myself it's not the end of the world, there are people in far worse situations me.

"It's certainly changed the way I look at the game. You realise how fickle sport can be and how quickly it can all change for you.

"The incident was just two to three seconds long, but even that short time changed the course of the next year. You certainly learn to appreciate it a bit more.

Fitzgerald made his comeback at the start of this season after opting against participating in the summer tour to New Zealand and Australia.

The decision is already yielding benefits with the gifted winger, who possesses a terrific side-step, feeling revitalised with the World Cup under a year away.

"Missing the summer tour was the best decision for me and my career," he said. "I said in interviews that I could possibly have pushed to go, but I don't think I could have.

"I was training well but it just didn't feel right. I wasn't fully ready so I made the best decision for me long-term. It was a very simple decision."

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