McCabe ready for his return to Super Rugby
January 6, 2014
McCabe suffered his second broken neck during a Test against the British & Irish Lions in June © Getty Images
Brumbies back Pat McCabe has revealed that he is ready for his return to rugby, but says he will need to "take some hits" on his healed broken neck to get rid of any doubts in the lead-up to his second return to Super Rugby.
McCabe broke his neck twice in 14 months, but he is adamant his horror injuries have left him mentally stronger and ready to return to match action in February - with the first pre-season training session of 2014 to hold particular significance after doctors cleared him for full-contact training for the first time since June.
The 21-Test Wallabies centre is adamant he won't change his body-breaking style of play, despite fears that his career was over when he twice cracked the C1 vertebra in his neck, telling Rugby Heaven "the main thing for me is getting out there and taking some hits".
"It's about getting used to that and get to the point where it's not in mind at all and that [the contact] is just natural again," he said. "I think the first couple of hits, my neck will be something I'm thinking about. But when the games start you don't have time to worry about that."
McCabe's career has been punctuated for the past 14 months by neck braces and physio visits, the player stating he would not return if he were risking permanent damage. But Australian Rugby Union medical staff cleared him just before Christmas for his return to full contact training, and now he is targeting a full return in the trial match against the Highlanders on January 29 to get match fitness.
The 25-year-old first broke his neck on the Wallabies' end-of-year tour of Europe in 2012; he suffered a hamstring and knee injury on his return before breaking his neck again in the first Test against the British & Irish Lions in June.
McCabe said he would not rush back, and would use his head brace twice a week to strengthen the muscles in his neck.
''It was a relief to get the final tick to play again and it was nice to get it before the Christmas break so that I knew I could get straight into it [on Monday],'' McCabe said. "Having done it before, it made the time in the neck brace a lot easier. This time I think I'm a lot better prepared. I've had a good bulk of time to get myself ready. Last year I rushed to get back on the field.''
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