Edinburgh and Scotland prop WP Nel is looking forward to finally getting his career back on track after an injury-plagued couple of years.
The 32-year-old tighthead has gone under the knife again, this time a routine knee “clean up” and hopes to back in full training in just over a month, and aiming be back in peak condition for what promises to be a big season ahead for Richard Cockerill’s resurgent side.
“It was something that I needed to get done to be ready for the next season,” explained South Africa-born Nel, who had become Scotland’s scrum linchpin since qualifying on residency rules in 2015. He had been touted as a possible Lions Test starter in New Zealand before a career which had previously been unblemished by serious injury was hit by a series of blows, including a career-threatening recurring neck injury and then a broken arm in last year’s first autumn Test.
“The body feels well, the mind is fresh so all I can do now is get myself ready and get out on the pitch when the season starts,” he said.
“It’s rugby, you can’t choose when and why you are injured so for me it has been a learning curve having not been injured for two years and then having two bad years.”
Before the injury woes, Nel gained a reputation for indefatigable stamina, playing week in, week out, often for 80 minutes, bucking the trend for front-rowers putting in no more than one-hour shifts.
“After this last two seasons I must say that the body feels like it wants to play rugby, so I feel really good and the young boys keep me on my toes,” he said.
Nel was speaking at the National Museum of Scotland where Edinburgh announced Capital-based chartered independent financial advisors Principal & Prosper as their new main club sponsor.
The firm has had a relationship with Edinburgh since 2015 but will now be main shirt sponsors when the recently rebranded club launch their new playing kit later in the summer after agreeing a three-year deal.
The return to the elite Heineken Champions Cup, meanwhile, gives Nel a new challenge to face in his career, and he is relishing finding out which of the continent’s top clubs Edinburgh will lock horns with when the draw is made on Wednesday.
“It is great for the club to be back there, awesome, and we are excited about the challenge,” said Neil.
“It is for us to take that challenge and build on last season and see where we get to.”