Back in action
May 3, 2012
England Sevens' Chris Cracknell and Michaela Staniford show off the new shirt on the roof of Twickenham © RFU
Different. That's how I would describe the last month, having left Hong Kong injured, spent far too much time being punished in the gym, stood on the roof of Twickenham Stadium and met Chris Evans wearing a shirt more colourful than his hair!
Hong Kong was not the great success we wanted it to be after finishing in fourth place and for me it was the first time they haven't been able to tape me back together to carry on playing. Unfortunately I had to head for home and missed out on travelling with the guys to Tokyo.
As any player will tell you, watching rugby is the hardest thing to do and having to watch the guys out in Tokyo was a bitter pill to swallow. But there were positives, the lads thrived in the conditions over there - which were less than ideal for Sevens - and have come back as a much tighter unit. The way we beat Fiji and played in the first half of the play-off against New Zealand showed that when we get it right we can beat anyone.
While they were running around in the rain, I was back in the UK for daily one-on-ones with the RFU's head physio Barney Kenny. This consisted of me following him around the gym doing all manner of exercises with 1-2kg dumbbells to rehab my shoulder injury. It was very embarrassing when I first picked up the light weights and I looked at him like he was joking. Thirty seconds later it felt like I'd picked up the 50kg set and he delivered the line "not so tough now, fella" with a wry smile! A small part of me was laughing very, very deep on the inside.
However, despite the nightmares about what he was going to put me through the next day, Barney has worked wonders and I should be ready and raring to go this weekend in Glasgow.
Another thing any player will tell you is that when injured you are at the mercy of community and commercial departments. You'll either be out coaching or in my case scaling the roof of Twickenham, launching the new shirt, wearing 70s disco wigs, meeting Olympic hopefuls from the GB women's hockey squad and talking about your diet on national TV. My appearance on The One Show opened me up to ample amounts of abuse which still hasn't stopped.
While all that was going on, the England lads returned from Tokyo and we were back into it ahead of the Glasgow Sevens and the Marriott London Sevens, the final two legs of the season. Finally I was getting back on the field, which was a relief as there's no better feeling than being part of the squad and no worse one than being the guy on the outside looking in.
We now head off to a new venue in Scotland, where Kenya, the USA and Australia are our day one opponents.
Beyond that is the Marriott London Sevens, for which 80,000 tickets have already been sold and where another world record crowd will create a fantastic buzz.
But for now big thanks to Barney Kenny for all his tireless efforts to get me fit again, usually at an hour when most of you are still asleep, and roll on Glasgow this weekend and getting back on the field at last.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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