Cardiff Blues pace-man Leigh Halfpenny reckons he can reap the rewards of his enforced lay-off.
The British & Irish Lions wing damaged his ankle on the eve of Wales’ autumn campaign. But after two frustrating months on the sidelines Halfpenny returned to action as a second-half replacement in the Blues’ 27-25 triumph over Ospreys on New Year’s Eve.
Halfpenny put his time on the treatment table to good use and believes he can come back better than ever as the Blues push for the Magners League play-offs.
“It was a massive frustration and disappointment to get the injury, more because of the timing of it, just before the Autumn internationals and then missing some big games for Cardiff Blues,” said Halfpenny.
“I was in good shape after working really hard and happy with my form, so that just made the injury worse.
“But I had to try and make the most of it in terms of my strength and conditioning. I have put on a bit of size, got a bit stronger and improved a few things with my running technique so hopefully the break will pay off in the long run.
“I haven't been able to do a great deal of running work so my speed is still something that needs some work to build back up to where I was.
“But I'm feeling great. My rehab was fine and training went without any reaction so that was a real positive.
“Obviously the key thing is to make sure I come back at the right time and didn't rush anything. I've learned from the past that it's better to wait an extra week and not risk the chance of making things worse and facing another month out."
Now Halfpenny is eager to get game-time with the Blues under his belt as he targets a return to the Wales team.
“As bad as the timing was, there is still so much rugby to be played this season for both club and country. The Blues may be out of Europe but we're in a decent position in the Magners League and that is something we really need to focus on in terms of winning silverware
“It's nice to think Wales haven't forgotten about me but now it's up to me to prove that I'm still worthy of the jersey and that starts with the Blues”