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Tim Richards overcomes serious injury to make Basingstoke RFC return
Buy this photo » Tim Richards in action against Bracknell in pre-season.
AFTER two years out of action with a second career threatening injury, Tim Richards is back and determined to force his way into the Basingstoke RFC team.
The 26-year-old broke and dislocated most of the bones in his foot during a pre-season game in 2011. He was told that running would always be difficult and advised not to play rugby again.
However, having already returned to the field after a back injury that was also thought to be career-ending, Richards put all of his energies into making a full recovery.
It has been a long road back, but Richards finally completed his comeback two weeks ago, when he took to the field against Bracknell in a pre-season friendly at Down Grange.
“It was horrible when the surgeon advised me not to play again because it was the second time I had been told that,” he said. “I had already overcome an operation on my spine but I did not quite take it to heart and it gave me the determination to get fit and return to training. I used it as my motivation.
“I started training again and Steve Tristram set up an appointment with my surgeon.
“I had not seen him for two years and he said I was ready to go back to playing, so I decided to get back into it.
“I’m going to go back and see what happens.
“I’m in the best shape of my life at the moment so I thought I should give it another go.
“My foot is not causing me any problems at the moment. I’m sure I will be nervous before my first competitive game but it has been fine in training.
“If it comes to the stage when I am getting injured all of the time then I might have to quit again but I want to make the decision rather than have it forced on me.”
’Stoke director of rugby, James Croker, added: “It’s brilliant to have Tim back, really positive. It basically is a new signing for us and he is a quality player who is looking really fit.”
Richards may be back, but he is a different player to the all-action centre that ’Stoke supporters remember so fondly. Rather than tackling everything that moves and making the hard yards from inside centre, the plan is for him to get on the end of moves, utilising his pace on the wing.
Croker said: “Tim has got the top end speed needed to be a good winger and we do not want our wide men to stay out on the wing but come inside looking for the ball.
“He has had injuries in the past and we want to make sure he is coming in when he sees there is space, rather than at 12, where you just receive the ball and go forward.”
Richards admits he will miss being in the contact area – but he has played on the wing in the past and is confident that he can make a big impact in his new position.
“I will miss the tackling, but it should work well because I am stronger and more powerful than I was before and my speed is better as well,” he said. “The other good thing is that I will not be involved all of the time so I should not pick up too many niggles.”
However, it is not going to be easy for Richards to force his way into the first team. Croker was already spoilt for choice, with Karl Buttle, Gavin Dampies and Gareth Kelly to choose from, before the summer additions of Jake Whitby and Ollie Johnson.
Richards said: “We have got some really good wingers but fingers crossed I can make my mark. James certainly seems keen to get me there and I hope my experience and physical attributes can help me force my way in.”
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