Ben Carson didn’t know if he would ever play rugby again, let alone make this year’s Ireland U-20s squad. Now, he is just 80 minutes away from becoming a Grand Slam winner.
Last September, he punctured his spleen in the opening two minutes of an Ulster ‘A’ game, which left his career hanging in the balance.
The serious injury is similar to that suffered by Connacht and Ireland out-half Jack Carty, who ruptured his spleen during a water slide accident in 2016.
Like Carty, Carson (inset) battled back – and while he was ruled out of action for four months, he timed his return well because after missing out on the initial U-20s Six Nations squad, the door has since opened.
“It was a pretty rough injury, I was sort of bedridden for a couple of weeks,” Carson recalled.
“And it was a pretty tough time for me, because I didn’t know if I was going to be able to play the game at a high standard ever again.
“It took two or three months until I could properly run and lift weights and train properly again after that injury. So it’s been a long journey trying to get back into the Irish team, but obviously with perseverance from myself – I didn’t give up, and knew that I could hopefully get there.
“And, yeah, thankfully, I’m here playing for Ireland.”
Receiving the news of such a bad injury knocked Carson, but he has shown strong mental resilience to bounce back.
“Ach, of course I was distraught, like everyone plays the game because they love it – and to be told you might not be able to play the game you love again was pretty heart-wrenching for a while. I didn’t really think about it too much after that, I sort of had a mindset of coming back better than ever, hopefully.
“So, yeah, I’m very grateful to be back.”
Carson’s centre partnership with his Ulster and Banbridge team-mate Jude Postlethwaite will be crucial to Ireland’s hopes of beating Scotland and clinching the Grand Slam at a sold-out Musgrave Park on Sunday.
“Oh, it would be unbelievable,” he added. “We’re not thinking that far ahead just yet, we’ve got one game in hand and we’re focusing on beating Scotland.
“I think it will be special for all of us to, hopefully, win that Grand Slam but I don’t want to get too excited too early
“We’ve got a game in hand and need to focus on that.”