Centre Matt Williams suffered a long-term knee injury that prevented the England U20 international from making a single appearance in the 2020/21 season.

After months of rehabilitation, hard work and dedication, Williams is back training with the senior squad, preparing for the new season.

“It’s been great, for me personally, to be back out and training with the squad,” he said.

“Obviously, I was injured for all last season, so just to be back out there now is great and I’m loving every second of it.”

For any professional athlete, injuries can be a lonely period away from their sport. However, Matt was determined to stay as involved as possible during his rehab.

“It was tough to be out on the side lines for so long, and I knew it would be when I got injured. It was all about keeping myself busy and to try and better myself in any way that I could” he said.

“I also tried to help the team as much as I could, whether that be a bit of analysis or match preparations. During my rehab I wanted to make sure that when I get back, I will be better than I was before the injury.”

Pre-season is tough enough but incorporating that with your first few sessions back from a long-term injury can be a daunting task. But thanks to the staff at the Club, Williams was ready to hit the ground running ... literally.

“It wasn’t too bad getting back into running because I had been following a long programme of load management to get me back to this stage. Thankfully, here at London Irish, the S&C team, the physios and the analysts do a brilliant job at managing individual workloads. This helps reduce the risk of injury. I am right at the end of this, so not quite full training, but very close.

“Now, it doesn’t matter what it is, I just love being back out on the field. Being injured for a long time gives you a bit of perspective. I’m not taking training sessions for granted, I just want to be outside.”

This pre-season is the London Irish Academy graduate’s sixth of his career, and he went on to explain that they are never an easy experience.

“Pre-seasons don’t get any easier! I think you just learn to push harder each time. It’s simple - the fitter you get, the further you run. Experience probably helps you as you go through the pre-seasons!”

Williams had targeted a return to the Exiles’ matchday squad for the last fixture of the 2020/21 season, but due to the cancellation of the clash due to Covid-19 protocols, he was denied his comeback. That didn’t dampen his spirits, however, and he is now focused on the 2021/22 Gallagher Premiership season opener.

“I was always targeting to make it back for the last game of the 2020/21 season, but for one reason or another, that didn’t happen. When I do make my comeback, it’s likely to be close to a year since my last outing. I will be doing everything in my power to get my name on the team sheet for that first game of the season.”

Williams is also waiting to make his first appearance at Brentford Community Stadium - and he is excited for the experience.

“It was a tough year for everyone last year. The squad found it hard not playing in front of our supporters because they are always so helpful during tough periods of matches. I can’t wait to see what it will be like to run out at the Brentford Community Stadium with all the supporters back in the stands.”

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