Tuesday 19 March 2019

The first four weeks of rehab have flown by, it's all been positive so far

Player's Diary: Luke McGrath

Luke McGrath is determined to get back into action as soon as possible having picked up a knee injury in the Champions Cup game against Toulouse last month. Photo: Sportsfile
Luke McGrath is determined to get back into action as soon as possible having picked up a knee injury in the Champions Cup game against Toulouse last month. Photo: Sportsfile
Luke McGrath is determined to get back into action as soon as possible having picked up a knee injury in the Champions Cup game against Toulouse last month. Photo: Sportsfile

It's been a while since my last diary piece. I missed out on a slot during the November internationals when away with Ireland and then unfortunately in not so brilliant circumstances I missed out on a slot a few weeks ago with an injury.

Timing is never good for any injury. But a week before the Six Nations squad was picked was a tough one to take.

When it happened, a lot of people feared the worse. A knee injury like that can often mean an ACL and that is in most cases a season-ending injury, in particular at that stage of the year.

For me, I took solace in a few things. The on-pitch assessment was pretty positive in that the checks they would do for an ACL injury came through OK.

It's not a guarantee until you get your scan but you take that crumb of comfort and cling to it.

Added to that I knew the feeling of that mechanism. The injury was to my medial ligament, MCL for short. Like the ACL, it's a ligament in your knee but the feeling was a familiar one. A similar injury happened to me last year.

Initial

So between the initial assessment and how I felt myself, I was trying to be positive. It is easier said than done until you get the scans back but in those moments you have to think positively.

For all the positivity though, again, the timing... and the same injury. It was so frustrating to be back at that same stage.

However, at least I know the rehab schedule well. I am aware of what exercises work for me and what went well the last time I did it. This will hopefully aid my recovery.

I was told by the medics it will be close to an eight-week injury, which isn't too bad considering it could have been worse. I am counting my lucky stars.

When a player gets injured, one would think you would have a lot of spare time but that is not the way. My weeks have been very busy which is good. My first week's target was just getting the swelling down, which meant a lot of ice and elevation.

Week two was more about small movements and weeks three and four have been back to straight-line movements.

The first four weeks have flown by and all has been positive with my knee.

This week I am moving on to change-of-direction running which is the last phase before returning to the pitch, so I'm hoping for a positive outcome.

I am a very competitive person so I want to get back as quickly as possible, however, its important I don't rush back too early.

So we will see how the next few weeks play out but I'm staying positive and looking forward to getting back out there for Leinster.

Rehab is made a lot easier by having Will 'Porridge' Connors in the group. The best way I can describe him is "different"! But in a great way.

He is always entertaining and enjoyable to be around. He is returning from an ACL injury so he has been off the field for quite some time but is making good progress.

I am really looking forward to seeing him back in action after such a long lay-off. He has put in endless hours of hard work so it will be great to see him back.

When you are in that injury bubble, in particular a long-term one, keeping the focus and the spirits up can be a challenge but you see the lads really buzzing the closer they get to the end.

Will was in the gym this week passing and taking some balls off our contact skills coach Hugh Hogan and you'd swear he was doing it at a full RDS. He was loving it.

Even though I have been injured, I have been heavily involved in the meetings which is great.

That is another element of being injured. You have your own rehab schedule but in terms of the team meetings or the unit meetings you are still involved and can still contribute.

This is great for upskilling and trying to improve my game understanding.

Watching the Six Nations in a more analytical way is another thing that I have enjoyed. The aim is to keep my thinking sharp for when I do return. It also keeps you up to date on what the lads have been doing on the pitch.

A couple of weeks ago, I also got the opportunity to do a Q&A for the IRFU Charitable Trust which was a great experience.

It was eye-opening to see all the great work that this charity does for former rugby players who have been severely injured and it puts rugby and life into perspective.

Unable

I really enjoyed the night and it was nice to be able to attend while I am unable to play.

It has been a few weeks since we have played a competitive game so the lads are looking forward to getting back into PRO14 action.

A trip to Italy awaits this weekend followed by back-to-back home games against the Kings and the Cheetahs.

This week we have referred back to the learnings in our last game against Scarlets.

We were lucky to come away with the win that day so it is important that we don't forget that. .

It's a very difficult place to play over in Zebre. All their wins this season have been at home.

It's always a hostile environment and they are playing the game this weekend in a different stadium and trying to attract more locals. A louder and noisier welcome awaits but the lads will be ready.

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