‘If I’ll Get Back’: Jack Willis Reveals Rugby Return Anxieties

This article by Bobby Bridge for CoventryLive was published online on Friday, 12th November 2021.

The Wasps and England flanker is documenting his rehabilitation from major knee surgery on his Instagram account. Jack Willis revealed a ‘speed bump’ in his recovery from a major knee injury that fueled doubts if he would return to the pitch. The Wasps flanker suffered catastrophic damage to his left knee playing for England against Italy during the Six Nations clash in February.

It is the second time the 2019/20 Premiership player of the season has suffered a major injury following ACL rupture in his right leg, suffered during the Premiership semi-final against Saracens in 2018. The 24-year-old has been documenting his recovery second time around via his Instagram account, which has nearly 39,000 followers, and a series of videos entitled ‘The Rebuild 2.0’. Episode six was released this week – nine months on from suffering the setback at Twickenham Stadium.

Willis discussed complications he was having that promoted a visit to the Fortius Clinic in London.

“The last couple of weeks haven’t been great,” he conceded. “I’ve had things like this in my past injuries. But this is the first time I’ve had a sort of speed bump, if you like, along the way this time and it’s been pretty tough in all honestly. It’s set me back a few weeks. It’s not only when I’ll get back, it’s if I’ll get back. I’ve never really liked to think like that before.”

A back-up plan of a possible PCL reconstruction by consultant knee surgeon Andy Williams – who was insistent that Willis still had a ‘good knee’ and that route wouldn’t need to be explored. Willis also documented a week spent at the UPMC Sports Surgery Clinic in Dublin with Wasps team-mate Joe Launchbury, who suffered an ACL rupture in April. The duo underwent a series of tests and sessions to assess their progress and support their journeys back onto the pitch.

After the visit, Willis’ tone changed to one of confidence about his return, but conceded that anxieties lingered about his return to the pitch.

“It’s a nice point to draw a line in the sand and look back on how far I’ve come,” he said. It’s been eight or so months since I did the injury.

“It’s been unreal having Joe here for the week, and also throughout the whole process, we’ve got a few injured lads we’ve been working closely with, having those boys around you, you get pretty tight when you’re going through the same thing. We stick by each other and get through each day and you know it’ll be pretty special when you’re back out there on the pitch together.

“I’m not a millions miles off potentially being a rugby player again and getting out there on the field. It’s pretty nervous thinking like that, thinking I’m a mile off. Hopefully my confidence improves as well because mentally at the moment I feel pretty nervous. I’ve got a lot of anxiety around being back and playing. Just around being injured again and the risks that come with it but each day hopefully that confidence will grow.”

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