“I THINK THE mental side of things really can be tested when you are injured because once you’re out of it, you’re out of it. Things move on very quickly.”
“It kind of puts things in perspective for you. You know yourself, when things get taken from you in life, even for small periods, you can cherish them even more. I’m dying to get back now.”
Many players have had far longer spells on the sidelines than Leinster wing Fergus McFadden, but nonetheless he hasn’t enjoyed his six weeks out, which have meant missing two Champions Cup clashes and Ireland’s November Tests.
As the 28-year-old gets set for his comeback from ligament damage to his ankle over the next fortnight, he is at least able to reflect on some of the more positive sides of time out from playing.
“Apart from that, I’ve had a bit more time to spend with family. I went down the country with the family a few weekends ago, which was nice. You try to fill your weekends more than you normally would, but during the week it was just a bit more evening time thrown towards college.”
Even when he’s not injured, McFadden is at Griffith College one evening a week for his part-time degree, which is spread across three years [he’s in his second] and undertaken in three-hour blocks at the South Circular Road campus in Dublin.
Leinster “drive guys to do things away from the game in relation to study and other interests,” according to head coach Matt O’Connor, and McFadden has certainly been keeping himself occupied in that regard.
McFadden suffered the ligament damage early in October against Munster. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO
While the former Clongowes Wood student does admit that ‘things move on very quickly’ on the pitch through the eyes of injured players, another aspect of Leinster’s squad culture is to include those men in their match preparation.
“We try and encourage those guys to have a more active part in the preview of opposition and try to upskill them in that, make them feel a part of the overall program and group,” outlines O’Connor.
McFadden has been putting that notion into action, as have others in Leinster’s rehab club:
“Cian Healy tore his hamstring off the bone, but he gave a presentation on some of the opposition props leading into those first two European games,” explains McFadden. “He would have looked at clips and gone through their strengths and weaknesses.
“It’s important to be behind the squad. Just because you’re injured doesn’t mean you’ve got no involvement. At the end of the day, everyone’s in the same ship, so if you can add anything when you’re not on the pitch, that’s a bonus. Matt tries to emphasise that.”
Whatever about the chance to catch up on college work and be involved as an off-the-pitch leader, McFadden has also been occupied with his own training in recent weeks.
Oddly enough, being injured actually involves more time at Leinster’s UCD training base, going through the tedium of rehabbing and attempting to keep his skills in as strong a shape as possible.
McFadden says Matt O’Connor pushes Leinster’s players to stay involved even when they’re injured.
“You do have more time at the weekends because you’re not playing, but during the week you’re rehabbing and with that schedule you’re generally actually in for longer than you might be even if you’re fit,” says McFadden.
“My schedule was a bit different to the lads. I’m getting more integrated to the pitch sessions now this week, but over the last five weeks – you go in early in the morning to get treatement, they [the medical staff] see where you’re at.
“You do a bit of rehab, do a bit of upper body weights, maybe do a fitness session on the bike. You’re getting through a fair amount of work, it’s just that you can’t do much of the rugby stuff.”
An ankle issue obviously means McFadden has been unable to run up until very recently, but does that mean that skill work goes out the window completely?
“But it’s very difficult to simulate doing that stuff when you’re running at full pace out on the pitch. So as long as you keep your eye in that way, try to keep on top of your skills, that’s what I’ve been doing to keep myself ticking along.”
Having “ticked all the boxes” this week, McFadden is in contention to be named in Leinster’s team to face Treviso in Italy on Sunday, a potential chance to bring his leadership back onto the pitch.
He’ll do so with his appetite for rugby revitalised.
Click Here: Angel Di Maria jersey sale
Guinness teamed up with Irish International Fergus McFadden to announce an extraordinary experience for rugby fans on the Guinness Plus mobile App to celebrate the final Guinness Series international as Ireland take on Australia.
Supporters who check in to their local pub on match day Saturday 22nd November will have the chance to win the match ball from the game signed by the Ireland team and delivered by a player.
In addition, supporters who check in on Guinness Plus any day before 22nd November 2014 will have the chance to win the ultimate experience for themselves and two friends where they won’t miss a moment of the action at next year’s RBS Six Nations with tickets to all of Ireland’s home matches as well as trips to Ireland’s away matches in Italy, Wales and Scotland.
The 5 nominees for the 2014 Try of the Year are inAre you the type of person who leaves a game early?