If London Welsh make it to the Premiership promised land this season, one player more than most will have done it the hard way , writes Damian Dolan.
Simon Whatling made his return to action from sprained foot ligaments – suffered in November – last month, having already spent three months sidelined with a broken leg.
He came off the bench in Saturday’s 34-23 promotion play-off triumph over Doncaster Knights at Old Deer Park with his rehab set to continue with a trip to Yorkshire tomorrow.
And the former Cornish Pirate is happy to be back to give head coach Lyn Jones a selection headache.
“It was like having a nail put through your foot and running around on it. That kind of pain and feeling you get walking on glass,” said Whatling of his most recent injury problems.
“I just thought it was a bang and carried on going, and then we played Plymouth away and it was sore all week, but I just thought it would die down.
“It’s one of those where you have to be careful otherwise it could have been game, set and match for me if I’d come back too early or broken my foot.
“It’s been nice to get a little run out. It’s been a tough few months, frustrating more than anything.
“We’ve had quite a few injuries, more than most teams, so it’s obviously nice to have everyone back and fit.”
Doncaster came close to denting Welsh’s play-off semi-final hopes on Saturday as they led 19-12 at half-time, before the Exiles regrouped to win through tries from Dan George, Nick Scott and Hudson Tonga’uiha.
Jones’ men can secure a third successive semi-final appearance with a win at Doncaster on Saturday coupled with a Bristol victory over Nottingham on Friday night.
“It wasn’t a great performance, but we showed a lot of heart and a lot of desire in the last 20 minutes to go out and score some tries and get ourselves back into the game,” added Whatling.
“We’ve another big game this weekend against Don-caster and we’ll be looking to put in a performance that perhaps we didn’t do last weekend.”