“I want to be involved in the big games”
Alex Walmsley has set himself a target as he continues his long recovery from injury.
The big prop fractured his neck back in March and is now in training as he looks to play again this year.
Whilst no date has been set for his return, the fact he is up and running is a welcome sight – and a real step forward from how he felt when he suffered the injury at Warrington.
“Warrington were close to our line and we wanted to keep them out,” Alex recalls. “I attempted to make a tackle and got it all wrong with my head going in an unnatural position causing the injury. I had shooting pains down my arm and my instincts told me I’d done something bad, but I wasn’t aware how bad.
“Over the weekend I stiffened up, had pain down my arm and couldn’t move my neck from side to side. I didn’t know how bad it was until after my scan and Nathan Mill, our physio, called me to say I’d broken my neck. He told me not to panic but it was a shock.”
He continued: “The stigma of an injury like that sends your mind into overdrive. You think about whether you will ever be able to play again … will you be able to pick up your son … will you be able to walk if the operation goes wrong … all sorts of things.
“It was pretty scary at the time but I began to feel better mentally when the operation was booked in and done. After the initial scan they said I would make a full recovery – but until you have the operation there is an uncertainty at what the prognosis would be.
“I have to say that the staff at the Alexandra in Cheadle were fantastic and the surgeon, John Leach, was superb. Afterwards he said it was a success and that got me in a good mindset.”
From there, Alex began his recovery, which started with something he isn’t that used to – not moving!
“I was told to have bed rest for two weeks,” he continues. “For someone who is physically active, being told to sit in bed with a neck brace on is very challenging! It was also tough not being able to pick up my son.
“I was told I couldn’t lift anything for those two weeks – and then afterwards only light duties for another month. He’s a big boy is Atticus so not being able to pick him up for six weeks was tough.
“You need the support of your loved ones at times like these and I was lucky to have that.”
Now the focus is on getting fit and hopefully returning for the business end of the season.
Alex has played five times for the club this year and believes his intense rehab will stand him in good stead.
“It’s all about ripping in and I’m already feeling better for it,” he adds. “I’m now in at the deep end. It’s been tough but you get out what you put in.
“I’ve been given the opportunity to work on things that I wouldn’t usually be able to in season. Nathan, Ally McFarland, Ollie Ersser and Ade Gardner have been working with me to make sure I come back quicker, more powerful and more mobile than ever before.
“I believe all these things will help improve my game.
“Before the operation, the surgeon wrote off my year. That was tough to hear but I tried to look on the bright side; at least he wasn’t writing off my career.
“My rehab has gone well and the surgeon is happy with how well I have responded. I think I have surprised him.
“Now we have set a target of being back this year. A lot will depend on a scan I have at the end of July but hopefully I will get a green light.
“I believe this team has the chance of winning more than one piece of silverware this season and hopefully I will be able to help them at the back end of the year.”