Wales hooker Richard Hibbard is ready to jump back into pre-season training with the Ospreys after recovering from knee surgery.
Hibbard missed the Ospreys’ Heineken Cup quarter final with Biarritz Olympique and then the run to the Magners League Grand Final, which the Welsh region won against Leinster in Dublin.
But, having successful undergone surgery to repair ligament damage, he is now set to join up with the first batch of players who return for pre-season training on 12 July with a view to being available for selection for the first game of the new season.
"I'm going into pre-season fine, feeling good. I've been working hard with the physios and it's really coming on,” said Hibbard.
"It's been a really frustrating time – I had four months of the season where it was on and off all the time because of injury. I first picked it up in the Leicestergame and from then it was rest, feel okay, play, and then it would go again.
“When the decision was made to have surgery back in April, it was good to see the end of the season and to finally get it sorted out. It's going to be tough going back into pre-season, but then the last four weeks with the physios has been tough enough anyway.
“It's always hard work when you've been injured and off your feet for a period of time. There's only so much upper body work you can do and, as soon as you start running again, it's a big step forward.
“You do tend to suffer a bit, your legs are heavy and tired but you've got to put yourself through it. Hopefully now, this period of working with the physios will get me back up to speed.
Hibbard will find a new contender for the No 2 jersey at the Ospreys next season following the recruitment of Wales’ 2005 Grand Slam hooker Mefin Davies from Leicester Tigers. He will make it a hat-trick of Welsh hookers at the club, along with Huw Bennett.
“Mefin coming in will really increase the competition and put the pressure on Benny and myself . He will bring a lot of experience with him and he has been playing consistently for Leicester,so he is clearly playing to a very high standard.”