The Wasps wing, who signed a new contract last week, was voted player of the year and young player of the year after a breakout 2012-13 season in which he scored 13 tries, joint top in the Premiership.
He continued to impress after being called up for England’s summer tour of Argentina, and was subsequently added to the British and Irish Lions squad for their victorious tour Down Under.
But, in December, disaster struck. The speedster suffered a serious foot injury in a club match, tearing ligaments and undergoing an operation.
With a six-month recovery timescale, the injury ruled him out of the Six Nations, and made him a doubt for the summer tour of New Zealand.
Despite this, Wade has kept his spirits up and – incredibly – is training with Wasps and England already.
“It’s a massive shame I can’t be part of things on the field, but it’s all about the team anyway and I am still involved, which was great as it means I retain my position,” Wade, who was named in the England Elite Player Squad, told Eurosport.
“I’ve been in and out of the England camp off the field, helping out in training and helping out with the analysis side of things.
“It’s been great for a variety of reasons. Firstly, it’s great for team spirit as it shows that you must stick with the lads even if you can’t play; secondly, it keeps me busy and motivated; and most importantly it means that – when I do return – I won’t have any catching up to do on stuff I’ve missed. I’ll be up to speed almost instantly.”
England’s Six Nations campaign starts in Paris this weekend.
Unlike some injured athletes, who cannot bear to watch an event they miss through injury, Wade will be right behind Stuart Lancaster’s side, saying he “will definitely be watching”.
It is still a long road to recovery for Wade, though. His rehabilitation work is being undertaken at Wasps and – even though he is progressing quicker than expected – he faces a race against time to be match fit for England’s summer tour of New Zealand.
“It’s not really been all that different, apart from the first two weeks, which I had to spend at home,” he added. “I’ve been able to drive, so haven’t been sitting around on my backside.
“After the first two weeks I was straight into the training ground, doing body and leg weights initially. I’m now starting to do some hypoxic training, walking, work in the water and a bit of light running.
“The target date was six months from surgery, which is May, but they tend to give worst-case scenarios. The rehab is going well so we are hoping for April.
“I’ll have some more appointments with the surgeon so we can work out exactly how things are going, but I’m definitely targeting the tour this summer.
“Hopefully I can get enough Premiership games in beforehand and get some game time in New Zealand. It will be a big tour for us and will put a marker down for the rest of the season.”
Wade is using that prospect to stay motivated and positive, and – along with his England team-mates – is putting all his focus on what will be a showpiece tournament in the home of rugby.
That also includes shunning potentially lucrative moves abroad, with Britain currently undergoing something of a talent-drain due to the better wages on offer in France.
“It’s a team thing for us and we’re building towards the World Cup. Everything is about preparing for that.
“And that includes where I play my rugby – my aims and goals are all circulating about England, this World Cup and beyond. France is not something I’m looking at in the near future. Perhaps later in my career, but Top 14 clubs tend to call a certain type of player anyway. It’s not in my thoughts at all.”
- Sports & Recreation
- Christian Wade