I pushed my body to the limit, thankfully it held up - Sherry
Such has been the extent of Mike Sherry's injury nightmare, it's easy to forget how much of a force he was when he won his one and only Ireland cap, against the United States in 2013.
Having battled back from the brink of retirement, the Limerick native has had to bide his time as he looks to recapture his best form.
Sherry has shown glimpses of what he is capable of but the emergence of Niall Scannell and the arrival of Rhys Marshall - both of whom have impressed - has stalled his progress.
Now back fully-fit and with another full pre-season under his belt, Sherry knows that he must make the most of every opportunity he gets, including tomorrow in Cardiff.
"It's a strange one, the more I was injured the more I'd think about it (life after rugby), but then I'd concentrate all my energy on getting back playing instead of thinking about life after it," the hooker admitted.
"But, no, I finished off my degree (in business) when I was injured and I do think about it, I don't know exactly what I want to do but it's definitely in the back of your head.
"Last season I did the whole pre-season and was fit for the entire year but chances were limited.
"This year I did it again, and it definitely sets you up for the year. You push your body to the absolute limit, thankfully it held up."
Just playing rugby again last season was a bonus for Sherry, and while it might not always have been at the level he wanted, it allowed a staunch clubman to get back to his roots.
"I hadn't played for Garryowen for a long time," the 30-year-old said.
"Playing for the 'A's, the odd opportunity here (with the senior team)... initially I was delighted to be back playing, but the more the year went on, I realised my body was holding up, so I wanted to get back into the first team.
"It was frustrating and enjoyable at the same time.
"It's (AIL) a great standard. I played the first nine games. We played Trinity up there and they ran us off the pitch for the first 20 minutes.
"Angus Lloyd was taken off and that changed the game, he was running the show. There were definitely players who I was blown away by their physicality."
It's a long way back to the Ireland set-up but Sherry hasn't given up hope of winning another cap.
"That's the ambition," he added.
"I think I can compete if I can stay fit and get a run of games and I'm doing that at the minute. It's up to me to show if I can or not."
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