Ellis Jenkins began reading Charles Dickens' novel Great Expectations during his four-month injury lay-off but after signing a new Cardiff Blues contract and returning to action he has set out his hopes for the future.
The Wales flanker tore one of his hamstring tendons off the bone during the Blues’ pre-season victory over English champions Exeter Chiefs.
That led to the 24-year-old’s longest injury lay-off but after returning to action in the New Year’s Eve derby against the Scarlets and coming off the bench once again against the Ospreys, he is now looking forward to making up for lost time.
He said: “When you have an injury like that you know rough time-frames but different people react differently to the operation and rehab.
“There was a period when I wasn’t able to drive, I couldn’t walk and it was a case of trying not to get fat!
“But I’m a pretty positive guy. I coped pretty well, I started reading quite a bit. I read a book called Grit and I’ve just started Great Expectations.
“Things are going well; the physios have said there will be niggles that come up after an operation like that but it’s just a case of looking after myself as well as I possibly can to make sure my body is in the best place for the rest of the season.
“Coming on so early against the Scarlets wasn’t ideal preparation but it was probably the best thing that could have happened for me – once you’re on you don’t really think about it.
“There was a bit of panic and I almost ran on without my shorts but I enjoyed it. You worry about whether you’ll be fit enough to last but once you’re back into the game, you’re back into old habits and I’m just trying to sharpen up now.
“I’m trying to get back match-fit now. Not fit to be back on the pitch but fit to play well.”
The Blues will be hoping Jenkins will be closer to the peak of his powers in Sunday’s European Challenge Cup clash against Toulouse.
Jenkins missed the famous win at Stade Ernest Wallon in October, which put his team in the box seat but he knows it will count for nothing if they fail to do the double over the four-time former Heineken Cup champions.
He continued: “Toulouse are a club whose history speaks for itself in European competition and while maybe they haven’t been the giants that they have been previously in the last few years they are still a huge team with a huge budget and some real quality players.
“I wasn’t out there when we beat them away but I’ve seen clips when we reviewed the game and again this week, of what was essentially a really young team which we put out and culminated in a really big win.
“That’s put us in a really good position in this group but it’s all for nothing if we can’t back it up on Sunday.”
That young talent coming off the Cardiff Blues conveyor belt has impressed Jenkins, who despite his age is a key leader within the squad, and it played a crucial role in his decision to sign a new contract.
He had been due to become available in the summer and there was major interest from rivals both in and out of Wales, but he is one of 12 players to have committed to Wales’ Capital Region in recent month.
“There’s lots of good youngsters here, I’ve been here a long time and I’ve grown up with a lot of the boys,” continues Jenkins.
“There are lots of players coming through with big futures and I wanted to be part of that.
“If you look at the majority of Wales U20s squads in the last couple of years there’s been lots of starters coming from the Blues.
“You look at Seb (Davies), Dillon (Lewis), Azza (Keiron Assiratti), Owen Lane, who has been awesome in the last few weeks. You can talk about boys who haven’t played yet, Rhun (Williams) who is injured, Jarrod (Evans), who is still only 22… Garyn (Smith), Aled (Summerhill), there are so many quality players coming through - it’s exciting.
“Options come up and you have to consider them but when it came down to it, it was a decision I made comfortably.”
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