Glasgow Warriors prop Allan Dell believes his recent injury problems have made him appreciate playing rugby all the more, after he finally made his competitive debut for the Scotstoun club.
Dell moved from London Irish to Glasgow last summer, with the former Edinburgh player looking forward to making his mark and pushing for success on his return to Scotland.
However, a calf injury in pre-season saw the Scotland international sidelined for months and, after working through rehab, he had to wait until last week’s match against Emirates Lions to pull on the shirt for a competitive game for the first time.
Dell’s career has been marked by injuries and he had previously revealed that he thought about quitting rugby four years ago when he suffered back and groin injuries not long after being called up to the British & Irish Lions squad.
This time, he admitted there was a mental toll that comes with being out of the first team picture but that he accepted it was part of the game.
“It’s a tough one because you get through the hard part,” Dell told STV. “The hardest part is pre-season.
“You look forward to that first pre-season game and then just two or three days before that you tweak your calf the first time and then just when you’re about to come back and join the team on the tour to South Africa, you tear it again.
“It’s just it’s a rollercoaster of emotions and just getting through, feeling great again and then you just go back down to ground zero. So it’s very difficult.
“When the team is doing well it’s good and exciting, but at the same time it’s hard when you’re by yourself in the gym and in the physio rooms and things like that.
“It plays a lot mentally but it’s just the nature of the game and we’ve been through it so many times, I’m not the first or last person is going to have to experience it, but just getting back and seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, getting back on the field and playing is just such a relief that after all the the s**t that’s been going on.
“It’s just… you get through it.”
Dell admitted that time on the sidelines dealing with recovery made him appreciate playing the game even more, and less likely to have any complaints about a punishing playing schedule or any of the other trials that come with top level rugby.
“A lot of times when you’re playing week in, week out, you take it a bit for granted that you’re in that situation, which is just natural,” he said.
“You’re playing every week, your body’s getting sore, you feel like you’re getting overplayed and all that kind of stuff.
“But then on the flip side, you’ve got guys who aren’t playing, guys aren’t even injured who aren’t getting a look in because of the competition in places. And then guys were injured who are doing all the dark work in the gym and in the buildings by themselves.
“You just appreciate that like ‘this is lucky’. You see a lot of stuff that’s happening in like Wales and then the English Premiership and after Covid and everything.
“I’ve been lucky. I think even with that, all these different little obstacles you sort of appreciate this is a career that you’ve got and it’s a short one as well.
“When you do get back out there on the field, you really appreciate that this is what you can do as a living.”