Deep vein thrombosis victim Andy Marinos is ready to put his injury nightmare behind him as he prepares to make his comeback in the Principality Cup final this weekend...and reclaim his Wales jersey for this autumn's World Cup Down Under...
The Newport centre - who is a target for several clubs in the Zurich Premiership - was struck down with the killer condition as he battled to recover from damaged ligaments in his foot in January.
Doctors say his leg may never fully recover because of the damage to the artery. But after a four-month lay-off, a rejuvenated Marinos is gunning for a place in Saturday's Principality Cup final against Llanelli - and a return to the Wales team.
'It's been a hard road and very frustrating,' he said. 'You just want to get out there and prove yourself. It's been a struggle and but I'm all ready to come back,
'The Cup final would be the perfect stage to perform and grab a tour place. It's the last big game of the season as I don't know how seriously teams are taking the rest of the league.
'I figure I'm still a part of Steve Hansen's plans and as long as I'm here I've got to be in with a chance.
'Australia is definitely a realistic target. I have no doubt in my ability and from a mental and physical point of view I've just got to switch on for these last few weeks.
'I did it before last season when I didn't play for nine weeks and then went to South Africa in the summer and started both Tests - so I don't see why I can't do it again.'
Indeed the 30-year-old is desperate for some good news after a thoroughly miserable season.
A dip in form lost him his place in the Wales team for the autumn internationals before injury and illness cost him four months of the campaign.
But this week Marinos stormed back into the Newport side as a replacement against cup final opponents Llanelli and then arch rivals Cardiff on Friday night.
'My first game back was a lot of fun and not as bad as I thought,' he said.
'I was a bit concerned from a fitness point of view but I've been working hard with the Wales fitness coach to get my sharpness and agility back. Now it's just a matter of getting some match time and getting my game together.'
However a year of misery has not stopped the South African born three-quarter, capped seven times for Wales, from attracting plenty of attention from other clubs.
And he admitted he was considering a deal to go to England amid the uncertainty in Welsh rugby over the new provincial system.
'The uncertainty in Wales has not helped at all,' said Marinos. 'I haven't heard anything from Newport and really I'm no more secure than I was two months ago. Hopefully something will be sorted out over the next few days.
'Ideally I will stay at Newport as it's the club that brought me to Wales and I have loved my time here, 'But I would be lying if I said that there hasn't been some very strong interest from across the border in the Zurich Premiership. So I'm keeping my options open.'
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