Lawrence Dallaglio dismissed fears his rugby career is over and vowed to be back playing by October after suffering a dislocated fracture of his right ankle during the Lions' victory over Bay of Plenty on Saturday.
Dallaglio underwent surgery in Auckland on Sunday to have a plate and five screws inserted into his right ankle and initial estimates have placed his recovery time at between four and six months.
The Wasps captain dislocated his ankle, broke his fibia and damaged ligaments when he slid into a tackle and was caught awkwardly under a pile of bodies.
However, he is in a positive frame of mind and is already looking forward to his return for Wasps.
"I knew my leg had been caught in the ground and it was not facing in the right direction," Dallaglio said from his hospital bed in Auckland.
"I had fractured and dislocated it. I was in a lot of pain and James (Robson, the Lions doctor) was able to put it back in on the pitch.
''He had never had to do that before and once the ankle was back in, the pain subsided.
"I have broken the fibia - the smaller of the two leg bones - and there is trauma to the ankle ligaments. I have had five screws and a metal plate inserted in the leg.
"I never thought that my career was in doubt. My only concern at the time was that my tour was over.
"I was lying there thinking: 'I have never been taken off on a stretcher before in my career'. I knew straight away that my tour was over. I knew that if it was an injury that I couldn't get up from then it was pretty serious."
Dallaglio refused to be too downbeat about events - "my kids thought it was funny that Daddy was carried off on a golf cart" - despite the disappointment of having a second Lions tour wrecked by injury.
Four years ago Dallaglio travelled to Australia with doubts over his fitness and the gamble failed to pay off when he blew his knee ligaments playing against New South Wales.
"It is just an unfortunate coincidence that I have been injured on successive Lions tours and had to go home early," he said, sitting up in bed. "I have been very fortunate throughout my rugby career being fit, the majority of the time, for the big occasions - winning three domestic titles in a row with Wasps, the Heineken Cup and the World Cup with England.
"Yes, it would have been great to finish this Lions tour but the dice has rolled and I have to accept the situation.
"Having conquered the knee ligament operation in 2001 and dealt with the rehab after that injury, it will be a massive help in getting back from this one.
"I am under no illusions about the amount of hard work I am going to face to get fit for next season and I will be very disappointed if I am not back playing by October - so will the surgeon.
"I am now looking forward to a break - I just didn't think it would be this kind of break!"
Dallaglio will leave behind in Auckland a squad of players he firmly believes is capable of beating the All Blacks.
"I can't get too frustrated even though I firmly believe this trip has all the hallmarks of a successful tour," he said.
"I felt I had a big part to play in the tour because I was in the best shape I have ever been in and I could tell that in the first 15 minutes of the Bay of Plenty game.
"There are so many quality players in the Lions squad and so much talent and I still believe we can be successful in the test series. I have no doubts about that."
Despite all the trauma of having his tour ended by injury, Dallaglio made sure his number eight jersey was left on the peg of his Bay of Plenty opposite number Colin Bourke, who vowed never to wash it.
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