Cardiff Blues scrum-half Richard Smith has revealed how he feared his career was over after his freak injury against Northampton Saints in a pre-season match.
Smith faces a lengthy lay off after tearing ligaments at the top of his spine in an awkward fall during the friendly 10 days ago.
Smith, who over-extended his neck as he went to ground, admitted he feared the worst as he later lay motionless in hospital having been stretchered away from the Arms Park.
But despite the prospect of missing at least the opening three months of the season, the Wales hopeful is thankful that he still has a career to look forward to.
'The doctors told me that it is quite a serious injury and that I'm going to be out for a few months, but I can't help being thankful that it wasn't anything worse,' said Smith.
'Any other injury would not have been so worrying but when you are talking about injuring the neck or spine, it has implications on your life not just rugby.
'So you have to put everything into context and think that every cloud has a silver lining.
'When it happened my first instinct was to stay still and feel for my fingers and toes. Thankfully I hadn't lost any feeling. But when the doctors ordered me to stay overnight at the hospital because there was an abnormality with the X-ray, then I started to worry.
'I tried not be too dramatic, but when I was lying there I couldn't help but wonder whether or not I had played my last game, or if this could have an effect on my life.'
The bruising friendly proved costly for both teams with Northampton losing Budge Pountney with a broken leg and Cardiff centre Pieter Muller also ruled out for the a fortnight after suffering a back injury.
'It was quite a game for injuries. So much so that I shared the same ambulance to the hospital as Pountney,' said Smith.
'We didn't chat much as I was flat out on my back and we were obviously both pretty apprehensive over how bad our respective injuries were.'
Smith, capped once for Wales against France three years ago, must wear a neck brace for the coming weeks before seeing a specialist to assess how long he will be out of action.
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