Rory Best sure injury won't hurt his Ireland displays
Rory Best took one look at the X-ray and feared his goal of finding fitness for the RBS 6 Nations might be just out of reach.
Surgery to repair his broken forearm had gone well, specialists said, offering a copy of the scan as souvenir.
The Ulsterman half expected a horde of sniggering team-mates to spill around the corner, owning up to defacing that scan as a practical joke.
The metal plates and pins to fix his fractured radial bone could almost have been added to that X-ray with a marker pen.
This was no laughing matter, and Best knew he faced a grind to beat the injury that laid him low in Ireland's titanic 24-22 November loss to New Zealand.
Just seven weeks after surgery though, Best made a prompt return for Ulster's 27-16 victory over Montpellier on Friday night.
Named in Joe Schmidt's 44-man RBS 6 Nations squad yesterday, Best admitted he must still prove his recovery is complete.
"All that will stay in," Best said of the metal additions to his forearm. "Most of the boys that have broken their arm have plates in there.
"A couple have them in their face and their leg, that's just part of the job these days.
"I'm not sure what the rust protection is like to be fair, but hopefully it'll be all right.
"Fingers crossed it won't set off any metal detectors at airports!
"During the game on Friday it was fine, that was probably as nervous as I've been in an Ulster game for a while.
"But as the game went on I felt more and more comfortable, taking the hits and getting stuck in and that side of things.
"So I was very happy, it felt fine over the weekend and I was always pencilled in for another X-ray on Monday just to make sure everything was where it should be and that nothing has slipped or moved, and that went well too."
Best paid tribute to Ulster coach Mark Anscombe for pitching him straight into a fierce Heineken Cup fortnight, with last week's Montpellier clash giving way to Saturday's Leicester trip.
"It's a fantastic opportunity to come back against two really tough teams," said Best.
"But also you go in (to the Six Nations) off the back of those real physical challenges in Europe, so your body's actually fairly well prepared hopefully."
Ireland boss Schmidt has named seven uncapped players in his extended squad.
Schmidt did not select seven frontline stars still recovering from injury, but reserved the right to call them up if they find fitness during the tournament.
Ulster quartet Tommy Bowe, Craig Gilroy, Roger Wilson and Declan Fitzpatrick as well as Richardt Strauss, Donnacha Ryan and Simon Zebo all still have a chance of Six Nations action then.
Ulster pair Stephen Ferris and Stuart Olding as well as Sean O'Brien and Mike Sherry have all been effectively ruled out by not being included on that list.