Dom Manfredi has admitted he thought about quitting Rugby League every day during his latest rehabilitation period.
The Wigan winger made a return to action last month after spending 10 months on the sidelines with a nasty anterior cruciate ligament injury.
It was the second time he had been forced to sit on the sidelines, having missed a staggering two years of action with the same injury on his other knee in 2016.
The tolls of rehab almost got the better of the 25-year-old, who came so close to quitting that he would search job centre websites in search of a new profession.
But, speaking exclusively to League Express, Manfredi admitted the euphoria of Old Trafford glory in 2018, scoring the winning try in Wigan’s Grand Final win over Warrington mere months after returning from injury, plus the support of his mum, was the key to him remaining motivated, and not taking up a job as an HGV driver.
“There were times I didn’t think I’d come back again,” he said.
“The thought of quitting went through my head every day until I got back fit. There were times I was ringing my mum saying “that’s it, I’m done”. I’d tell her I’d get another job.
“I was sat on job centre websites looking at what I could do and how I could earn some money to get by.
“Mum was always supportive of what I was saying, but she was also the voice that said keep going, and that’s what got me through it to be honest.
“As I came back last time, playing in a Grand Final after such a bad two years was a massive high after such a massive low.
“If it wasn’t for that match, had I not played that game, I don’t think I’d have come back, I’d have given up pretty much. But it just kept me going.”
His time away from the pitch has, in his own words, given Manfredi other insights, helping him understand resilience and humility.
“It’s helped me to be not as greedy,” he says.
“I’ve missed out on a lot of things. When I was injured I was going to do an HGV course, but as I got back fit I thought about doing something more long-term than sitting in a lorry cab, so I put my mind into plumbing. I’ve been doing my level 1 plumbing; Oli Partington and Josh Woods have done it with me and we’ve enjoyed it. It’s kept me quite busy.”
Manfredi is now looking forward to keeping busy on the pitch. A remarkable return has seen him not only return to the Wigan fold without losing a beat, but also being named in the England set-up under his former Wigan coach, Shaun Wane.
“To be in that mix is overwhelming. I’ve always got on with Waney, I don’t think I’d be anywhere near where I am today without him. I owe him a lot.
“A lot of young wingers are coming through, but Ryan (Hall) and Jerry (McGillvary) have done a great job for England and they’ve got plenty to go yet, so it won’t be easy getting in the team.”
In reality, Manfredi is just happy to be back on the pitch, having not so long ago considered leaving it for good.
“It’s really tough to get through. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy and I would do anything to not have to go through it again. It’s not just physically; it’s a massive mental strain.
“But it’s a massive high to be back after another massive low.
“I thought I was going alright at the start of the season but everything has been put on hold. It’s disappointing after so long but what can you do? Some people are losing jobs, some people are dying. I’m grateful for what I have.”