An Injury & A New England Manager

Posted on: 21 April 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves

Nick missed Sunday’s game at Newcastle with a foot injury. This week he explains the treatment he’s undergoing whilst also giving his view on the new England rugby manager Martin Johnson

It’s been a disappointing week from my point of view. In our game against Perpignan a few weeks ago I injured a ligament in my foot which has gradually got more painful and so I was on the bench for the game against Newcastle last Sunday as a precaution.
But as we warmed up, I hurt it further and although I was a substitute I didn’t make it on to the field.

Playing at Newcastle is always tough. They’re a strong side at home but Sunday’s game was a strange one. They’ve not got a lot to play for - they can’t go down and it’s unlikely they’ll be challenging for the top six so there was a strange sort of atmosphere around the game.  Nevertheless, the lads put in a good performance to win 13-8.

We did make it up there in time this year though. We trained on Saturday morning before getting the bus to Kings Cross. From there it was a smooth train journey up and straight to the hotel.

There were a few card games flying about and others decided to get an early night with a long day ahead for Sunday.  After breakfast in the morning we played the game which admittedly was pretty poor. Even so, I’d rather have been playing than watching from the sidelines.

We jumped straight back on the train afterwards for the journey home, it was a bit of a rush. Some of the guys picked up a Burger King or other fast food.  We’re allowed to eat fast-food as long as it’s straight after the game as it replaces the lost energy otherwise we’re banned.

There were more card games on the journey home; some people we’re looking to win back the money they lost the night before while others just relaxed with a beer - nothing too major as we’ve only 6 days until the next game. We got home around 11pm, so it was a long day and getting back to your own bed felt very good.

I’ve not trained properly for the last couple of weeks and I’ve had to keep icing my foot every hour whilst also getting some ultrasound on it from the physio.

Being injured is the worst part of being a professional rugby player. You can’t do what you’re paid to do and it feels rubbish.  If that wasn’t bad enough, I’m even more disappointed with the timing of the injury. I felt I was playing well enough and I’m now likely to be miss this weekend’s game with Harlequins as well.

We’ve got Toulouse in the Heineken Cup soon, the biggest match in our history and right now I won’t be in the condition to play.
I can walk in some discomfort but running is very painful. You want to feel right when playing any sport but another part is the fitness. If I’m to play a part against Toulouse I need to be match fit.

They’re a club known for spinning the ball wide, offloading out of the tackle and you generally have to be on top of your game to get close to them. Fingers crossed I’ll be back in time.

I’ve taken part in my weights sessions as per usual and watched most of the rugby sessions making sure I’m clued in to the calls and set moves, ready for when I get back.

I’ve also been doing some work in the swimming pool and the cycle bike to keep me active but there is simply no substitute for running.
So for Saturday it looks like I’ll be a spectator when the game comes around. When you’re not in the squad or you’re injured there are plenty of other jobs to be done.

I’ll be meeting and greeting people in the corporate boxes before and after the game and I may even be given some coaching to do for the kids who play on the pitch before the match and at half time.

Outside of the club, we all heard the news on Wednesday that Martin Johnson will be the new England rugby manager.  He’s a very intelligent rugby man, he’s very passionate and obviously a huge England leader. Rumours coming out of the England camp were that they missed a leader of the squad so now Martin will make sure he takes charge from the front.

There’s also been a bit of talk that Mike Catt will be joining England as a backs coach. Mike’s a huge character to have around the squad. He already combines playing duties with coaching at the club. He provides us with some fascinating rugby knowledge and I know that everyone would be gutted if he left.  He’s got one year left on his contract with us and we really don’t want him to leave. 

I see the Toulouse game as vital if I’m going to make a name for myself at international level. All the forwards’ coaches have stayed the same for England so although it’s a chance to impress the new manager, I want to remind the other coaches what I’m capable of and then who knows.

As for the present, I hope to be back in full action in the coming week.

London Irish took on Harlequins this Saturday at the Madjeski Stadium in Reading, with a 2.45pm kick off.  They won 13: 6. 

By Nick Kennedy (London Irish)


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