Ben Flower has revealed he played through the pain barrier as Wigan stormed to a fourth Super League crown last month.
The compact prop forward suffered a ligament injury in his hand during the 23-4 defeat to St Helens in July, and played on with that, as well as needing knee surgery, until the Grand Final.
I tore a ligament and then had complications, so I played the last few months without being able to grip anythingBen Flower
Wales international Flower underwent two operations after the 12-6 win over Warrington at Old Trafford, and says everyone is ‘buzzing’ to be back for pre-season.
“I’ve been in doing rehab – I had a knee op and a hand op,” he said.
“It’s nice to get them out the way and get back into it.
“I had my knee done two or three days after the final, my hand the week later.”
Flower revealed the extent of his injury, which resulted in pins and needles and sleep disturbance, as well as not being able to grip anything.
“I had a clean-out on my knee, but my hand was pretty messed-up,” he explained.
“I did it against Saints, before the Super 8s. I tore a ligament and then had complications, so I played the last few months without being able to grip anything. The surgeon was quite surprised I was able to play with it.
“In the meantime, I had constant pins and needles – and that was pretty horrendous – so it’s all sorted now.”
Flower’s inability to grip properly meant his training regime was compromised during Wigan’s vital Super 8s run, epitomising the horror injury run experienced at the club throughout last season.
And while his contribution was warmly welcomed as coach Shaun Wane struggled with a heavily depleted squad, Flower is looking forward to getting back into peak condition.
“I’m looking forward to getting back into shape! It shouldn’t take too long to get back to where I want to be,” he smiled.
“It’s so much better, everyone is buzzing, and I’m pretty sure everyone will be ripping in.”
Following his surgery, he can now go full-tilt into training, in a squad which includes a clutch of stars due to return from long-term injuries such as Michael McIlorum, Tony Clubb, Sam and Joel Tomkins and Dom Manfredi.
“I’ve not been able to do any weights for six or seven weeks,” said Flower.
“I could grab, but I had no strength in my grip.
“It’s nice to be able to feel my hand again.
“The worst thing was waking up at night with pins and needles, it was annoying more than anything.”