Gareth Anscombe opens up on injury torment

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Wales fly-half Gareth Anscombe has revealed the struggles he endured in the midst of battling back from a horrific knee injury sustained in August 2019.

Anscombe ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament during a World Cup warm-up against England which forced him to miss the global tournament.

Despite that disappointment, the fly-half was initially only expected to be out for nine months, but he suffered a number of setbacks.

The 30-year-old was forced to undergo three surgeries in total, which delayed his return until he finally made his debut for the Ospreys in September 2021.

He has gone from strength to strength since then and made his international comeback for Wales against New Zealand in the Autumn Nations Series.

A dark road

“It has been a really dark road,” Anscombe told the Daily Mail. “I was in freefall for a big part of my life. My surgeon told me I needed to get my head around the prospect of not playing again.

“I was anxious, frustrated, angry and scared. I just wanted to move on with my life even if rugby wasn’t in it and at one stage we were seriously looking at that.

“To even be back playing now is a success really, because there were a lot of people who questioned whether I could do that.

“It was supposed to be nine months out but it turned into 25. It was a hell of a long time out and no-one saw it coming. The setbacks along the way slowly got worse and worse. Suddenly, it was a fight to save my career because the people we were speaking to were really unsure if I’d make it back.”

Despite the struggles both mentally and physically, Anscombe set himself a clear target that helped him overcome those issues.

“Ultimately, getting back to play for Wales was what got me through,” he said. “When you’ve had some of the highs I’ve had with Wales, it’s a drug you want to keep taking.”

Just getting out onto the field isn’t seen as a complete success for Anscombe, however, with the fly-half looking to get back to the levels which made him one of the best playmakers in Europe.

“I won’t see myself as successful until I’m back to where I was in 2019,” he said.

“I missed the game in my first year out but you get used to watching and to some extent I was able to accept not playing again.

“The moments I run down the tunnel with Wales and look up to see the crowd singing the national anthem are really special and what I’ll miss when I stop playing. I had a taste of that so I had an overwhelming sense of gratitude to be out there against New Zealand.”

Anscombe also had a strong support network, particularly from his family, and added: “I wasn’t the best person to be around for long periods of my recovery. When you are not seeing any improvement in your knee, you just think ‘What’s the point? I can’t do it’.

“There are lots of people I have to thank, but my wife is right at the top of the list. It’s particularly hard for me to articulate how grateful I am to her and my family.

“If I’d had to do it alone I would probably have chucked in the towel. I had people around me who kept morale high but also allowed me to moan — that comes pretty easily to me!”

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