England centre Ben Te’o has admitted that he feared for his future in the rugby union after suffering an injury-hit season, with his return already delayed this term as he recovers from a thigh problem.
The Worcester Warriors back missed the summer tour of South Africa after suffering aggravating an existing injury in training with England that required him to undergo surgery on a “minor” quadriceps tear.
The operation and subsequent rehab will keep him out of the Worcester’s opening Premiership match at the start of September, and he has revealed that the serious setback – a second in the space of one season – left him in fear for his career.
"You have a couple of injuries back to back and you start to wonder, 'Is this worth it?' A lot of players would feel the same,” Te’o told the BBC.
"I've come back from some tough injuries, and once you're back it's brilliant. But the time off is tough.
"When I was getting ready for surgery for my quad, I was laying in the bed with the gown on about to go under [the knife] again and I was thinking, 'I can't believe I am going under again for another op' – more crutches and all that.
"But sometimes that's the way it goes with injuries. You can have a couple of good years, and then sometimes it can go back to back to back, and you just can't get away from it."
The injury cast further scrutiny on England head coach Eddie Jones and his training sessions, with the notoriously intense programme that he sets his players claiming many victims since he took the job. Te’o’s initial injury was diagnosed after a weights session with the national team during this year’s Six Nations, having only returned to action in the championship-opener against Italy earlier that month.
His appearance in Rome was his first outing since he injured his ankle in October while on club duty in Europe, with Te’o paying to fly back to New Zealand for rehabilitation after having surgery to insert a TightRope, plates and screws into his leg.
The injuries meant that Worcester managed to get just 12 appearances out of the British and Irish Lion last season, and with his long-term fitness at the forefront of his mind, he admitted that he may no longer be able to compete in every club game week-in week-out.
"I would love to get out here and play week in, week out. But that's just not real anymore, not in this day and age,” Te’o added.
"I would love to get back fit and play every game for Worcester this season. Is that realistic? I don't know. Maybe, we will see."
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