Leinster winger Luke Fitzgerald has expressed his relief to be back on the rugby field ahead of his return to International action with Ireland this weekend.
The 23-year-old lines-up against South Africa at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday in his first International appearance in a year after damaging the lateral collateral ligament of his left knee during the 20-20 draw with Australia last November.
The injury was a huge blow to the talented Irish back and Fitzgerald was forced to re-evaluate life away from the game during his time out.
"When I was told how significant the injury was there were tears shed," he said.
"I thought it might be the end.
“My family gathered around me and I had to move back home for a few months.
It's certainly changed the way I look at the game. You realise how fickle sport can be."
Fitzgerald is joined by six of his province team-mates in the starting line-up for Ireland this weekend, in a side that includes only one non-Irish based player, the Ospreys’ Tommy Bowe.
Ireland: R Kearney (Leinster); T Bowe (Ospreys), B O'Driscoll (Leinster, capt), G D'Arcy (Leinster), L Fitzgerald (Leinster); J Sexton (Leinster), E Reddan (Leinster); C Healy (Leinster), R Best (Ulster), T Buckley (Munster), D O'Callaghan (Munster), M O'Driscoll (Munster), S Ferris (Ulster), D Wallace (Munster), J Heaslip (Leinster). Subs: S Cronin (Connacht), T Court (Ulster), D Ryan (Munster), D Leamy (Munster), P Stringer (Munster), R O'Gara (Munster), K Earls (Munster).
South Africa: G Aplon; B Basson, Z Kirchner, J de Villiers/P Lambie, B Habana; M Steyn, R Pienaar; T Mtawarira, B du Plessis, J du Plessis, B Botha, V Matfield, D Stegmann, J Smith, P Spies. Subs: C Ralepelle, CJ van der Linde, F van der Merwe, W Alberts/K Daniel, F Hougaard, A Jacobs, P Lambie/L Mvovo.