Ospreys flanker Ben Lewis is ready to put 14 months of injury hell behind him.
The 22-year-old, billed as Martyn Williams’ natural successor in the Wales team, has been out of action since April last year after undergoing surgery to repair anterior cruciate ligament damage.
Lewis admitted there were “dark times” along the way, particularly in November when his anticipated return was put on ice after complications forced him under the knife for a second time.
Now back in full training, Lewis’ immediate target is to win his place back in the Ospreys side and rebuild the reputation that had him pencilled in for Wales’ 2008 tour of South Africa before injury struck.
“I’m feeling pretty good about myself right now. I’ve been out for longer than a year and I’ve had quite a tough time of it but it’s good to be back in full training and getting the ball in hand. I’m genuinely excited about the prospect of playing again,” said Lewis.
“Have I got a target for the season? To get back playing as many games as I can in an Ospreys shirt, it’s as simple as that. I want to try and carry on where I left off in April last year. It’s difficult to target anything else given the length of time I’ve been out.
“I had a taste of regional rugby a couple of seasons ago and I was starting to build up a reputation for myself and now I have to do it all over again.
“I can’t think about anything else, or pay attention to anything that’s said or written about me coming back, the only thing I have to answer to is my own expectations.”
If Lewis makes the same impact as he did in 2007 then his progress will not escape the attention of Wales head coach Warren Gatland.
Wales are likely to be without Williams, who underwent shoulder surgery after returning from the Lions tour, for the autumn internationals.