Newcastle Falcons flanker Richard Mayhew is putting two months of torment behind him, having finally recovered from the foot injury which has kept him out of action.
The Kiwi was a second-half replacement in last weekend’s 40-3 defeat at Saracens, and is hoping for more involvement this Sunday when London Irish make the LV= Cup trip to Kingston Park.
“It was very frustrating to get the injury during pre-season after a summer of working hard,” said Mayhew.
“I felt like I was doing well, and then from out of nowhere my foot started playing up. I managed to get through the Bath game out in France in mid-August, but I was struggling the day after because some bone had come loose.
“I had a cortisone injection to try and settle down the joint, and had my foot in the boot for four weeks. From there I had another month’s rehab, and thankfully I am back now without any problems. You want to play in every game, and it was doubly frustrating because I felt like I had put myself in a good spot going into the start of the season in terms of potentially getting a few runs. That is just rugby and how things go sometimes, but now that I am back fit I know I need to take my chances when they come.”
Watching on from the stands as his side won three of their first six league games, the ex-North Harbour man said: “We have played well, despite not quite putting together that full performance that everybody aspires to.
“We have shown a lot of improvement and played well in patches. We have progressed from last year, but consistency is the thing we know we need to add. We have made some good additions, and it is going relatively well.”
Delivering a realistic assessment on their five-try hammering at Saracens, the back-rower was right to highlight the early positives, stating: “We had a script to play against Saracens, and we stuck to it well in the first half. We got some good rewards from that, but we went away from the plan during the second half and they capitalised on our errors. They played good rugby and scored some good tries, but for 50 minutes we were competitive and showed what we can do.
“They are a quality side, and as soon as we took our foot of the throat they came through and made us pay for it. The score at the end wasn’t a full reflection on the game, and there are still things we can take from it. You’re always learning, but you need to maintain it because a top side like them can punish you.”
Hoping for more some game-time as the Falcons freshen things up for the Anglo-Welsh competition, Mayhew added: “It is an exciting time for me because I got my first 15 minutes at Saracens, although I didn’t get too many chances to get stuck into the game.
“Hopefully I will be involved in some capacity on Sunday against London Irish, and it is a big opportunity. I would love to get some rugby under my belt during this window of two LV= Cup matches, and it is a chance to try and push for a spot when we get back into the league stuff at Northampton in a couple of weeks.
“Will Welch, Mark Wilson and Ally Hogg have been playing very well in the back row so there is plenty of competition, along with the other guys who have featured there during the season. Getting on their heels and pushing them as hard as I can is all I can really do, and trying to help the team.”
With a busy November seeing New Zealand’s national side in Europe, starting with France on Saturday, he said: “I am looking forward to that, and it is always good to support the All Blacks up here.
“The English game in particular is one I am looking forward to, especially after last year’s debacle. Myself and Ryan Shortland were watching it with the rest of the Falcons squad, and when they started to dominate us it wasn’t pretty. We got quite a bit of banter about that, but the All Blacks should take care of the English this time round.”