No injury is ever a welcome one, but for Dom Waldouck the timing of his couldn’t have been much worse.
The centre was ready to play his part in Saints’ Premiership title bid before a training ground accident crushed his hopes.
Waldouck was stretchered off the paddock in early April, having gone to ground and taken the weight of another player, ripping his hamstring from the bone.
It left him facing a lengthy recovery, while the likes of Luther Burrell and Tom May battled it out for the No.12 shirt.
Burrell has since gone on to establish himself in the Saints squad, starring in the Premiership final defeat to Leicester Tigers in May.
The form of the former Sale Sharks man, who, like Waldouck, arrived at Saints in the summer of 2012, has seen him earn England recognition.
Burrell was called up for the summer tour of South America and remains hopeful of playing some part in the final November international, against New Zealand next weekend.
But for Waldouck, who Saints paid a transfer fee to Wasps for, it has been a waiting game, willing his hamstring to recover, with the sofa more commonplace than the bench.
And missing out on that Premiership final clash with Leicester brought about a similar level of mental pain to the physical hurt the injury caused.
“It’s very tough to get injured at any time but to get injured towards the end of the season with such big, exciting games coming up adds to that frustration,” said Waldouck.
“The impact of that is big but you’ve got to deal with it. It’s part of playing rugby and you just get on with it and deal with it as best you can.”
Waldouck quickly sought coping mechanisms and took to writing columns and studying as a form of keeping himself busy through months where rugby had to take a back seat.
He explained: “It’s important to keep your mind occupied away from the rugby because with injuries and when it’s not going so well, rugby tends to monopolise your thought process.
“It’s good to have distractions so I’m writing and doing some studying as well so when you get away from the club you try to take your mind off things and when you’re at the club you’re fully focused.”
But the 26-year-old, who has several England Saxons appearances to his name, is now fully on the road to recovery, using the Wanderers’ ‘A’ League games as a platform to a first-team return.
“I’m gradually getting there,” said Waldouck. “I had a pretty horrific injury but I’m coming back from that and feeling stronger by the day.
“I’m still dealing with a few knock-on effects from that, but the medical team at Saints have been absolutely fantastic so I’m sure I’ll get through it and move on to bigger and better things this season.”
One of those bigger and better things comes today at Franklin’s Gardens as Waldouck captains Saints for the first time.
And he can’t wait to play his part in what has been a superb season so far, with his club winning six of their first nine games in all competitions.
“It’s great to be back and be involved in such a successful team,” Waldouck said. “The boys have played really well so far this year and it’s going to be very competitive to get back in the first-team on a regular basis.
“Looking at my position, Luther has played very well since I’ve been out and he’s now on the brink of an England Test call-up.
“George (Pisi) has obviously continued his high standards so there is a lot of competition in all positions in the squad, which is healthy and you’ve just got to work hard.
“When you get that opportunity you’ve got to take it.”
And you can bet Waldouck, with those months of pain now behind him, will do just that.