Bristol Bears star Simi Pam admits she considered retirement amid injury woes

Simi Pam played a starring role in the Allianz Cup semi-finals (Andy Watts/Bristol Bears)
Simi Pam played a starring role in the Allianz Cup semi-finals (Andy Watts/Bristol Bears)

By Paul Eddison and Elise Hamersley, Sportsbeat

Bristol Bears star Simi Pam admits she considered walking away from rugby after a serious ankle injury derailed her international dreams.

The prop took up rugby relatively late, having previously competed at international level in athletics.

After establishing herself in the front row for the Bears, Pam was hoping that this year would see her recognised internationally.

Instead, she suffered a syndesmosis injury in round two of Allianz Premiership Women’s Rugby, leading to an extended spell on the sidelines.

Having made it back, she missed out on selection for the Six Nations with the Red Roses, leaving her to ask questions about her future in the sport.

She said: “Literally about a month ago I had an existential crisis where I thought ‘why am I doing this’?

“I’m exhausted all the time, even though I’d been injured I was really hoping to have some involvement with the Six Nations squad. When that didn’t happen, I think it hit me harder than I thought it would.

“I just thought ‘what’s the point’? I’m basically killing myself and it feels like it’s not paying off at that time.

“I had to sit myself down and say right, you can stop playing or you can scale back massively. I had to ask myself what is it that you want, what is it you enjoy?

“First of all, I love playing at Bristol, I love the team. I love our team culture and environment.

“I think a big part of why I’ve been struggling had been off the back of an injury. Not feeling like I can do the things that I really like doing on the pitch but that will come with time.”

Pam needed an operation after the injury to her ankle, fittingly making her return against Loughborough Lightning in February, the same team against whom she had suffered the injury.

While she has now been back for two months, it took until the Allianz Cup semi-final clash with Gloucester-Hartpury ten days ago for Pam to feel that she had put it behind her.

Pam played a key role in the 54-28 win, scoring two tries to set up a final against Saracens.

That encounter at Shaftesbury Park will give Bears the chance to finish off a stunning run in the Cup, having hit a half-century of points in every game they have played.

“The semi-final was probably the first match since coming back where I’ve actually felt like myself,” she said.

“It was my fourth match back from injury. The first one is just survive. It just didn’t feel like I was playing the way I wanted to play whether that was through lack of fitness or lack of integrating in the team but I felt really proud of how I played in the semi-final.

“I thought I did the things that I like to do. I did my basics really well, came off the pitch and thought that’s a really good benchmark for how I want to continue playing. Hopefully I can build on that in the final.

“It’s a case of us not being overwhelmed by the occasion, with it being certainly the first final for me in Bears colours in six seasons.

“It’ll be a new experience for us but we have to go out there and play the way we’ve been playing.”

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