If you’re struggling with boredom during these difficult times, spare a thought for Alex Foster.
The Castleford star is finally back in action after a long layoff with a knee injury.
Foster had suffered a patellofemoral injury – better described as a crack behind his kneecap, as well as cartilage and ligament damage.
As part of his rehabilitation, Foster spent last summer on the settee using a continuous passive motion machine, which bent and straightened his leg repeatedly, for six hours a day.
“It was the worst part of the whole rehab,” he said.
“I had to sit down on the machine and it just bent my knee to a right angle and back again. I had to sit there for six hours a day, six days a week. It drove me mad.
“I wasn’t allowed to move in these six weeks. I was in a three-storey house, stuck on the middle floor where the living room is. I couldn’t make meals and going to the toilet was difficult. If I absolutely had to, I could hop up or downstairs, but I set up camp on my middle floor.”
Foster believes, like many of his peers, that there is a lack of understanding of the often mundane challenge of long injuries.
“It’s psychological, changing your routine; you’re a professional athlete working on serious aspects of rugby to then working out how to lift a leg up and contract your muscles. Everything turns on its head and you end up with totally new goals.
“I remember the first day I was able to do a leg raise without any assistance; that was exciting for me! Six months post-surgery, when I could start running, which was well after the season had finished, I was very apprehensive about, as it was a bit sore on my knee. As you start to run your gait comes back naturally, so I got there in the end.”
Foster insists he had few nerves about returning to the physicality of the game and, having seen Castleford start the season superbly, he is ready to help the cause.
“I’ve always played and trained with an all or nothing approach and not taking my own safety into account. I was happy to get in the wrestle room and bash people; it was good to get back and do some contact.
“It’s disappointing that we’ve been suspended because it’s just coming up to a year of hard work and building some confidence in training. Our next game was going to be my comeback game, but obviously it was called off. I just have to look at the silver lining though. It may put me back on a level playing field with the boys and back up to their pace to compete for a position when I do get to play.
“We’ve started so well and it’s been a great place to be at the start of this year. Everyone has stepped up a level; the new guys have brought something to the squad and they deserve the applause they’ve received in the opening rounds of the competition.”