Ben Te’o was left reflecting on his future as he suffered a gruesome injury setback that resulted in another interruption to his stop-start England career.
Te’o missed the summer tour to South Africa in order to have his quad muscle surgically re-attached to a tendon after aggravating a pre-existing condition during a weights session.
Having dealt with the complication of a subsequent calf issue, he made his comeback as a replacement for Worcester last weekend and is participating in England’s training camp in Portugal ahead of the autumn opener against the Springboks on Saturday.
Another four months were lost to a high ankle sprain which healed in time for the 2018 NatWest 6 Nations. Cumulatively, the injuries have left a scar on the 31-year-old’s pysche.
“I tore the quad off the tendon and it was something you could leave or try and rehab, but there was always the risk that if I tore it again it might unravel up your leg, which is then a huge surgery,” Te’o said.
“So we took the option to fix it and make sure it is 100 per cent. It wasn’t actually too painful, it was just a question of weighing up the risk. Do you play on, do you try and rehab it or just go fix it? If you fix it it’s done and you can move on.
“But it does start to get on top of you. It takes its toll because it’s not nice having surgery and doing the rehab.
“As you get older sometimes your muscles aren’t working like they used to, but you’ve got to be resilient. You’ve got to realise that impact and soft tissue injuries are going to happen.
“A while ago there was a stage when I thought: ‘Is this worth it? Am I sick of rugby because of all the injuries?’
“It was not like I was going to retire, but when you’ve had back-to-back surgeries you think: ‘This is my body shutting down on me’.
“I’m getting sick of the rehab and going through these things. But as soon as you push out the other end it’s out of your mind. I’m happy now.
“Unfortunately I’ve had mine back-to-back. If I can stay out there and play, I think my body is going to be a bit more resilient.”