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Rhys Webb happy to be off his nan's mobility scooter and back on the pitch

Published 18/03/2016

Scrum-half Rhys Webb will make his first Wales start since September in Saturday's Six Nations clash against Italy
Scrum-half Rhys Webb will make his first Wales start since September in Saturday's Six Nations clash against Italy

Rhys Webb will return to the scene of his "heart-breaking" World Cup demise on Saturday when Wales look to secure a runners-up finish in this season's RBS 6 Nations Championship.

As on that demoralising day six months ago, Wales' opponents will be Italy in Cardiff, with Webb running out as his country's starting scrum-half.

The 27-year-old ended Wales' final World Cup warm-up game last September with a dislocated foot and displaced metatarsals.

Even when he tried to watch the remainder of Wales' 23-19 victory on his phone in hospital, the first thing he saw was team-mate Leigh Halfpenny being carried off after suffering a serious knee injury that, like Webb, would mean he missed the entire World Cup campaign.

"I knew straight away it was job done," said Webb, who subsequently underwent surgery and had a metal plate put in his foot.

"It was heart-breaking because I had put myself in a good position to wear a jersey, which I always do with pride, and worked so hard to go into the World Cup with it.

"A World Cup in this country is something that does not happen often, so it was a mega blow.

"I had had nasty injuries before, but this was a different feeling. It wasn't the best. I knew what I would be missing, but it is done and I am over it and in a pretty good place.

"I remember I went off to hospital, and as I got the game up on my phone, he (Halfpenny) was getting stretchered off.

"I kept in contact with him when we were both injured - we were both feeling the same - and we kept each other going. They (Wales) asked us to come in and present the jerseys before the Fiji World Cup game, and that was a nice touch by them. They asked us to make a speech, though, which was quite difficult.

"I am not sure how long the surgery was, but I have a metal plate in the front of my foot. If it was troubling me, they could take it out and it would be a two-week setback.

"The foot was dislocated and the metatarsals were out of place and had to be put back together, but nothing is troubling me now, and it is feeling strong and normal again."

And Webb, who was a major try-scoring weapon for Wales before his injury, found a novel way of getting around to help relieve the boredom - driving his grandmother's mobility scooter!

"I was in one (plaster) cast for two weeks, and then another one for six - non-weight bearing with crutches - and I could not drive. It was quite hard because I am an outgoing person, not one for keeping still too long.

"I needed to take my mind off things. I did not want to be in the house doing nothing and thinking too much about the rugby I was missing. Being active takes it all away.

"My nan does not live close, so the scooter was chucked into the back of my dad's van and brought to my house. I roamed around the streets to get out of the house and get a bit of fresh air, although I was wrapped up, under cover!

"I don't know what the top speed of it was, but it has a tortoise on one side of the controls and a cheetah on the other, so I was trying to max it out."

While Webb embarked on a lengthy recovery process, Scarlets number nine Gareth Davies took his Wales chance brilliantly, scoring five tries in five World Cup games, before adding a spectacular solo score to his portfolio during last month's Six Nations victory over Scotland.

Webb, though, boasts a similar Test try-scoring record, and after being recalled to the Wales Six Nations squad ahead of last weekend's clash against England at Twickenham, his second-half appearance off the bench helped spark a revival from 25-7 adrift that Dylan Hartley's team only just repelled.

"He (Davies) has done well in the jersey," Webb said. "You guys (media) always talk about competition, but I do not see it as competition.

"As long as I work hard on my game and make sure I am 100 per cent in what I do, the rest will take care of itself, really. I do not want to concentrate on other nines, just myself.

"It has been a whirlwind season for me, but the injury and everything is way behind me now. Always in the back of my mind I have wanted to get back in the Wales jersey. I have that opportunity to wear it this weekend, and I need to put in a big performance."

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