David Flatman: My role in Olly's rehab? Cook his meals, mow lawn, drive him round...

From the Front Row

When badly injured, it really helps to have all your friends around you. When I was last ruled out with a long-term knock, I was bowled over by the efforts that some of the other players went to just to give me some company and keep my spirits high. They would call round every day after training, always putting the kettle straight on and even bearing edible gifts for the oh-so-grateful invalid.

It was only when I received a text message meant for someone else from one Andy Beattie – Bath back row and childhood friend – that their true agenda was revealed. "Don't forget the cookies, let's see if we can get him to 20 stones." Ah, I see.

What a lovely set of boys.

This was almost as despicable as the time former Bath scrum-half Martyn Wood hurt his neck on a trampoline while showing off to some girls. We spent nine days calling his name and forcing him to turn awkwardly in his neck brace and punching him lightly in the face from behind; standard procedure with neck injuries. All good fun, at least until the second x-ray revealed a serious injury. We felt genuinely terrible. Well, we did until we saw him again post-surgery. "Wouldn't change a thing, lads, funniest week of my life," he muttered from his hospital bed. So we nicked his Toblerone and left him to it.

You see, injuries happen in this game; it's how you deal with it. I am typically a depressive bear with a short temper and tendency to fear the worst. I know this, though, so I have learned to compartmentalise my thoughts somewhat – putting these in the "silly" box – which allows me to snap myself back to reality when the nightmarish daydreams become too morose. Thankfully, Olly Barkley is a bit more sensible.

Last weekend he suffered a nasty break to his left leg and has since had the operation to fix it. Lots of rods, plates and screws have been notched into place and the healing has begun. There was a point when I thought none of this would be necessary; just minutes after the match at Gloucester my phone rang. It was Olly and, a little confused and still in my underpants, I answered.

"Had the x-ray," he said, "and there's nothing wrong with it. What we doing for food tonight? Can we have curry?" It took me a few seconds to realise that whatever drugs he had been given were certainly working! And at least he wasn't in pain. So I agreed to the curry and told him to stop being such a drama queen and hurry home.

No matter how much perspective you are able to muster, though, these times are extremely tough. Now the drugs have worn off, he knows that it will be months of painful, laborious rehabilitation before he can again take the field and play for his beloved club. He knows that he will have to get used to watching us from the sidelines feeling impotent and frustrated. He knows all of this, as we all do in these moments, but how does a player get through it?

Well, it all depends on the individual. Some players like to set goals; usually based around dates and key steps in their rehabilitation. For me, this didn't work. As soon as a goal was not achieved I felt so frustrated that I couldn't communicate.

So I decided to ask my father, a psychologist, for some advice. It was simple: "All you have to do is get to the gym on time and do as the experts tell you. So do that. Get to the gym on time and leave the thinking to the ones who know what they're talking about." That was what did it for me; arrive ready to work to the point of exhaustion, complete every repetition of every set, then go home and relax, knowing all that could have been done has been done.

What every injured player needs is support. Whether it is administrative or social, solitude is rarely healthy. My role in Olly's rehab is simple: I'm his PA. I envisage months of driving him everywhere, waiting hours for him to finish physio, cooking his meals and mowing his lawn. So, no change there then. Thinking about it, it's alright for him; he will just do his hour of work at breakfast time, sit back, apply some bags of ice and relax. Someone needs to run his empire, so this could be a busy few months for yours truly. Either way, he would do the same for me. In fact, he has done.

What he has to dream of now is that first session back with the boys. The first time he loses the "don't hurt me" bib and gets properly stuck in. That will be a great day. He will be nervous, as will the medics watching on from the sidelines, but it will be worth it. Tell you what, though; he'll have to lose a few pounds first; I sent him up a family bucket of fried chicken for lunch today. Just a little treat, it's what mates are for...

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
video
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Up my street: The residents of the elegant Moray Place in Edinburgh's Georgian New Town
tvBBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past
Extras
indybest
News
Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has been the teaching profession's favourite teacher
education
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
sport
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sport
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Sport
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform