Gallagher Premiership play-off: Tom Wood reveals injury nightmare ahead of Northampton clash with Exeter

Tom Wood of Northampton
Tom Wood of Northampton

Tom Wood has revealed he was reduced to crawling on his hands and knees as he struggled to overcome an injury that threatened his career.

Wood will play a part in Northampton's Gallagher Premiership play-off against Exeter at Sandy Park on Saturday knowing he has faced down the worst of a frustrating campaign.

A condition called pubic symphysis - a rupture in the seam of the pelvis - cost the England flanker six months of the season and he has been limited to a bench role since.

Not knowing if he would make a full recovery took its toll on a high work-rate player accustomed to being in outstanding physical shape.

"Last summer there was a lot of uncertainty about whether I would even get back out on the pitch - I was really questioning how much longer I was for a rugby career," Wood said.

"Against Sale last year I'd come out of a maul, twisted awkwardly and from that moment couldn't pick my legs up properly. I was just shuffling around as I couldn't lift my knees.

"I had loads of setbacks where I was coming into training but going backwards. There was a point in the summer where I could barely stand up.

"I woke up and had to basically come downstairs on my hands and knees, sliding down, phoning the physio for help, not knowing what to do. It was really that bad.

"There was a lot of uncertainty about how I would ever get back to running around, making tackles and changing direction.

"I'm a difficult type of person in that situation. The S&C team showed a lot of patience and were innovative in how they treated me, to keep me from going insane.

"I was desperate to perform and be part of the lads. I pride myself on my physical fitness, being robust and resilient.

"My life away from rugby is very active. I've got three kids. I've done archery, tree-surgery, chain-sawing and I'm busy out on bikes all the time.

"To have all that taken away from you....I've got all this energy and I don't know where to put it.

"I had to do all this yoga stuff - Pilates with pelvic tilts, low level core exercises. For someone used to running around and tackling 18 stone blokes - basically being in a brawl - to be doing Pilates as the only outlet was tedious."

Wood's England prospects have dimmed since a run of eight games under Jones concluded with the 2017 Six Nations but having recently signed a one-year contract extension with Saints with the option for an additional season, he still has plenty to offer at Franklin's Gardens.

"I had a sticky spell mid-career with a toe injury which was really frustrating because I could have been at my peak for England and Saints," he said.

"I had a good six months on the sidelines but when I came back it still plagued me a bit. I've put that to bed now though. I actually feel as fit and strong as I ever have."

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