Will Addison reflects on his injury absence and future ambitions with Ulster

Will Addison scored a try against Bath at Kingspan Stadium to help Ulster into the European Champions Cup quarter-finals on January 18, 2020.

Thursday, 6th May 2021, 6:00 am

It would be another 15 months before the Ireland full back could appear on a rugby pitch again after suffering a serious back injury that required surgery.

Appearances off the bench against Connacht and Leicester seem to suggest the surgery was a success and Addison is in line for a start against Munster at Thomond Park tomorrow night after many dark days and soul searching trying to get back to full fitness.

“Whenever it’s an injury to your back it’s really serious and I’ve had a couple now, so there is a point when you start to weigh up whether this brilliant job that you have as a professional rugby player is worth what could be beyond rugby,” said Addison. “Those thoughts definitely go through your head, the support that I had from the surgeon first of all, from the physio staff here and the confidence I had in myself that I would get things right.”

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Ulster's Will Addison. Pic by Getty.

“Once the operation was done it gave me a clear line to where I could get back.

“Before that, when you’re dealing with a chronic injury, it can be quite hard to see an end in sight.

“The surgery, that gave me a real clear focus that I would get back but definitely it’s been the most up and down injury that I’ve ever experienced, the fear of that finality of your career definitely crossed my mind a few times.”

“The most difficult part about trying to accept that it might be the end is that feeling that you’ve way more in the tank, that’s the mental challenge of it.

“Since that surgery, we had a clear sight, pre-surgery was the toing and froing of will I get back and play or not.

“The surgery gave me the focus that with the work and with the rehab, that I would get back fit in X amount of months and then put your best foot forward.

“Lockdown was a small experience of what semi-retirement might be like and it actually wasn’t as daunting.

“I got a chance to do some work on the farm back home, I put some work into figuring out what I might want to do if it was the end.

“But, fortunately, the surgery has given...I wouldn’t say a new lease of life but the option to keep doing what I love doing and what I’m passionate about.

“I’m grateful to the surgeons, the guys around Ulster, the guys down the road, it’s given me an extension to my career.

“Hopefully, when I come to finish in however many years’ time now I’ll look back on these last 12 months as really useful in helping me prepare for it.

“I’ve had to face those fears already in a certain sort of way...but the surgery and the work over the past six months have given me the opportunity to go on and finish my career the way I want.”

Addison worked closely with Ulster skills coach Dan Soper during his rehab.

“He’s such a brilliant bloke to rely on, he’s a steady fella and he’s really forward thinking,” he said. “Everyone in here has a growth mindset, everyone wants to get better every day and as a rehabber, that can feel tough when your body isn’t allowing it.

“Sops is invaluable, taking away the monotony of the rehab and giving us things to improve on, skills to take the mind off the rehab or even just to put a smile on your face.

“That’s a real key part of the rehab process, that’s the stuff that he does as well as adding value on the pitch.”

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