Jamie Roberts, 30, the Welsh Rugby Union international and centre for Harlequins FC has suffered five major injuries, and become the master of recovery. Jamie is currently prepping for Big Game 10, a rugby match which has become an iconic event in the UK’s sporting calendar. We spoke to Jamie about how he got back on form
I’ve had quite a few injuries in my career. I’ve had reconstructive surgery to my knee, wrist, ankle, shoulder and a fractured skull – those are my five big ones. The toughest one was probably my [right] wrist which I damaged in 2009, but it wasn’t diagnosed properly for a year, so I had to have a full reconstructive graft on the front of the wrist. That was the most difficult one because you rely on your wrist a lot in rugby. It’s quite delicate and I struggled getting back to using it properly. It was my dominant hand, and I was in a cast for six weeks. I had one of those amazing rubber gloves you can put on your arm and deflate it to push all the air out of the cast, so I could go in the water on holiday.
Any player will tell you, injuries are part and parcel of the job, and getting back on form is rewarding. The tricky thing [with a wrist injury] is that your grip strength is pretty poor coming back, so I had to do a lot of band work, a lot of cable work – it’s all so tedious for a six-month injury.
Understand your own body, and you can prepare everything to get the best out of training. You have to make sure you go out [on the pitch] on the Saturday without any pain. On the Monday or Tuesday you’re certainly going to be suffering from the weekend, but you’ve just got to manage that throughout the week. We try and do it without anti-inflammatory medication, but sometimes you have to. Once you manage those injuries well, you can then put more effort into getting faster, fitter, and stronger.
I think rugby has changed a huge amount – the game is quicker, the ball is in play longer, you’re running high speed metres – the game has had to adapt to that, both club and test-level. Certainly, from a body composition point of view, from a weight-lifting point of view, all the methods of training constantly change – It’s very interesting to follow it all.
I’ve still got a few niggles – wrist, shoulder, knee, so my preseason has been focussed on flexibility and on prehab/rehab. The stronger you are around those joints the less pain you feel after training. I make sure do a lot of stretching on my days off, which helps. But you’re never completely fresh. The only time your fitness is at 100 per cent is during your first game of professional rugby, and from there on in you just chip away at it.
Jamie and Harlequins return to Twickenham Stadium on Saturday 30th December for Big Game 10. For tickets go to https://tickets.quins.co.uk