Sydney - Wallabies star Drew Mitchell will spend the next 12 weeks in rehab
and is in danger of missing the start of the Super Rugby campaign after
succumbing to a recurrence of the ankle injury that ended his 2011
Less than a month into pre-season training and the Waratahs are already
resigned to starting the season without the winger. Mitchell revealed to
the Herald what was meant to be simple post-op clean-out last
week turned into ligament surgery that has resulted in him returning to
"I had a bit of irritation around the ankle that was coming on towards
the end of my Rugby World Cup campaign that I was managing and then despite
having a little bit of time off because of the hamstring tear, the ankle
was getting worse," he said.
"So I got a few scans and things done, and there was a bit of a bone
irregularity that needed to be shaved back because the tendon was
flicking over it and it was being irritated.
"We were hoping it'd be as simple as just going in there and shaving
back the bone, but when they got in there they saw that the tendon was
already torn four centimetres, so they had to remove part of it, about
20 per cent, to allow it to grow back to its normal state and strength.
"So what was going to be a six-week injury is now more like a 12-week injury."
That time frame makes him eligible to play in the Waratahs' opening
Super Rugby match, but the 27-year-old is determined not to rush his
return, having played less than 200 minutes of rugby since damaging his
ankle in April.
"At this stage I should be ready to start playing again by the end of
February but I rushed back pretty quickly to get back for the World Cup
and, in the end, not having the conditioning in my legs caused a big
tear in my hammy and back problems," Mitchell said.
"The body wasn't able to cope with the workload and fatigue, and that's probably why I'm where I am now.
"So this time around I want to make sure I've got the metres under my
legs, the muscle and conditioning to be able to take the workload. I'll
gauge it as I'm going through my rehab but I'm not going to be in any
rush this time.
"The ankle was irritating me during the World Cup but we're not sure if
it was gone then. But I haven't run since the World Cup, so you'd have
to think that maybe it was," Mitchell, who came off the bench against
Ireland and the United States before tearing his hamstring against
"The general feel is now that it's good that we know what we're dealing
with. I'm on crutches, non-weight bearing, and in a week I'll get in the
boot and be able to walk around a little bit and pretty much start
again from scratch.
"So 2011, I won't be too sad to see the back of it come New Year's Eve."
Also on the Wallabies' long-term injury list are Dan Vickerman
(shoulder) and Rocky Elsom, who has undergone shoulder surgery as well
as hamstring surgery.