Australia captain Rocky Elsom admits he "dodged a bullet" when his ankle injury was found to be less serious than first feared.
Elsom suffered a high ankle sprain - medically termed a syndesmosis problem - in his first match back from a chronic hamstring problem for the Brumbies against the Western Force 10 days ago.
But while the injury can often sideline players for months rather than weeks, the 28-year-old says he is on target to return in the international season opener against Samoa at ANZ Stadium on July 23. "I'm still injured so I won't be playing for the rest of this Super (Rugby) season but I've probably dodged a bit of a bullet there," Elsom said.
"Obviously I'm not a doctor but I think you have three tendons that influence that syndesmosis injury. One has copped a fair bit of damage and the other two look ok, so hopefully I'll be back for the next test.
"It's still a lay-off but it was a very awkward position to get caught in and it could have been worse."
Elsom is still on crutches but expects to transfer to a "moon boot" next week.
He revealed the chronic hamstring injury that kept him sidelined for six months feels "100%" and, despite his obvious frustrations, he concedes the extra lay-off could prove a blessing in disguise with the World Cup on the horizon.
"The thing with my hamstring is that it's always got better with more work. You'd think that maybe the rest could help as well if there was something I was missing but it felt fine in the weeks before I played as well," he said.
Coach Robbie Deans confirmed he will not hesitate to throw Elsom back into the fray against Samoa despite having played just 80 minutes of rugby since last November.
"To be frank he's probably in better shape now that he was at any point last year, but ideally obviously the more time he gets to prepare the better because it is a big step," Deans said. It's tough enough going back into Super Rugby, let alone international (level), but he's the sort of bloke who will get the work done."