Ben Morgan's recovery: From 'chicken leg' to England return
PA Sport
August 12, 2015
© Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images

Ben Morgan recalls gazing out of the gym window longing to resume his playing career as he nursed his "chicken leg" back to health.

The England number eight will conclude seven months of pain-staking rehabilitation when France visit Twickenham on Saturday in the first of three World Cup warm-up games. Several pins and a plate were inserted into his left leg to repair the fracture sustained on club duty for Gloucester during an ill-fated match against Saracens in January, ending his season and ushering in a prolonged spell of lonely recovery.

While Morgan was able to add muscle to his upper body by lifting weights, he took little satisfaction from the strength gains as he reflected on an agonising setback endured shortly after he had emerged as the star of England's autumn campaign.

"I was sat in a gym watching, wanting to be involved. My goal isn't to be an Olympic lifter or body-builder. I just want to be out on the rugby field and there are no balls in the gym," Morgan said. "Everything I do is to make myself a better rugby player and give myself the opportunity to get back on the field.

"There was a lot of atrophy in my legs, particularly after having a cast on for the first two months - it was a bit of a chicken leg when it came out. I've done a lot of work building up my leg muscle and now you can't tell the difference. You've got to stay focused and get the most out of it because the rehab can become a bit tedious and frustrating.

"It was an opportunity for me to develop and, in a weird way, you come to enjoy it. But you're always looking out of the window trying to get out there."

The timeline for Morgan's recovery points to an anxious two matches against France, with the 26-year-old Bristolian sure to be involved in Paris seven days later if he emerges unscathed from Twickenham on Saturday. He has only taken part in full contact training for the past fortnight - he resumed running as recently as last month - and England need their player of the series for last autumn to prove his fitness over the coming weekends if they are to take him to the World Cup.

"I'm ready to go now. I've not really got any particular goals in my mind - I'm just going to go out and play my natural game," Morgan said. "If you end up over-thinking things, you can go away from what's good about your game. I can't be nervous - I just have to go for it.

"We know we're playing for places and there's a World Cup just around the corner, but ultimately all I can do is go out there and give it my all. Every game is a big game coming back. But I've worked hard - I feel as if I'm in a good place.

"I'm confident I can go out there and play to the level I expect of myself. It is a big game but I'm ready to go."

Forwards coach Graham Rowntree hopes that simplifying Morgan's role against France will make his comeback more comfortable.

"We've got in mind a length of time we want to see him on the field which is appropriate to the amount of time he's been off," Rowntree said. "He's just got to come on and fulfil some basic roles which he did exceptionally well for us against Australia in the autumn.

"I don't want to clutter his mind with trying to be the best number eight in the world. I want him to get through the game and fulfil a few things very well."

© PA Sport

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