AS he prepares to finally return from the ordeal of two successive torn Achilles, Yorkshire Carnegie centre Fred Burdon insists he never contemplated “walking away” from the sport.
He is on the bench tomorrow ready to put 18 months of torment behind him as Carnegie host Moseley in the British & Irish Cup quarter-final.
Burdon has not played a first-team game for them since facing Leinster A in May 2014.
He tore an Achilles the following pre-season that wrecked his 2014-15 campaign and then, cruelly, just as he was about to return last year, suffered the same injury in his other leg.
“The second Achilles tear was a bad moment,” recalled Burdon.
“I knew that I had worked so hard to get back and so many people had showed a lot of faith in me including my team-mates, the coaches and my friends and family.
“To not be able to deliver for other people because your body has let you down was a tough experience.
“All you want to do is play rugby and your body won’t let you, worst of all you don’t understand why.
“I never considered walking away from the game. I was always going to do the rehab because I wanted my body to be in good nick for life.
“Our physio Steve Humphries and doctor Jon Power were great with me as were the whole support team at Carnegie.
“To play rugby for a living is all I wanted to do my whole life, so there was never any doubt about it for me that I would come back.”
Burdon was the club’s player of the year in 2013-14 and, so, obviously wants to try and pick up from where he left off.
There has been three changes of head coach since then and the 26-year-old is grateful current chief Bryan Redpath has allowed him the chance to prove his worth again.
Burdon, who has scored 12 tries in 53 games since joining from Doncaster knights in 2012, said; “The big thing for me is how much of an open mind Bryan has had.
“A lot of coaches would look at my injury history and dismiss me.
“He has seen that I have worked hard and listened to the medical staff who have advised him.
“He has allowed me to train and I am extremely thankful hopefully it can work out well and I can start paying that faith back at the weekend.
“I am really looking forward to Sunday; it is my second time in a Yorkshire Carnegie shirt 18 months apart which has been too long and there is a lot I still want to do in the game.”
England U-20s international Taylor Prell returns to the side at full-back while Tom Casson comes in for Harry Leonard at centre.
Oli Goss replaces David Doherty on the wing with Joel Hodgson starting this week instead of former Leeds Rhinos captain Kevin Sinfield at fly-half.
Up front, Rob O’Donnell is back at tighthead prop and Chris Walker replaces Andy Saull in the back-row.
Ryan Burrows will captain the side at No8 having missed last week’s Championship win at Moseley to attend the birth of his daughter.
On the bench, alongside Burdon, club captain Chris Jones returns after missing last week with a pelvis injury.