Carmarthen Journal


- BEN JAMES Rugby Correspond­ent ben.james@walesonlin­

KEN Owens admits he didn’t know if he’d play profession­al rugby again as he prepares to face the might of Argentina’s pack this weekend.

The Scarlets hooker is back in the Wales squad after 11 months out of the game with a back injury and made his return to the internatio­nal fold in Saturday’s 55-23 defeat to New Zealand at the Principali­ty Stadium.

His injury nightmare began ahead of last year’s clash with New Zealand, when the Scarlets stalwart was forced to pull out of the side just half an hour after it was named.

“The last 11 months have been tough, mentally, physically,” said Owens.

“It’s been tough in a number of different ways, not sure whether I was going to recover or not, but it has been a bit of a refresh as well, which has been good.”

There was a point when the 82-cap Wales internatio­nal, who has also won five caps for the Lions, did wonder whether he would even return to the game.

However, the 35-year-old admitted that he didn’t want to live with any regrets over hanging up his boots early.

“Yes, (I came close) a couple of times but I think it was one of those I didn’t want to make the decision myself,” he added. “I wanted to see what happened.

“The medical advice from the surgeon was that the nerve can take a bit of time. There were certain times where I thought ‘do we keep going through it?’, but thankfully I tried to stay as positive as I could be and got through it.

“I think the biggest thing was probably if I’d made the decision, would I regret it in years to come if I’d gone too soon?

“If I’d have come back, I’d have known if I was able to compete at this level or not.

“I think it was making sure I’d done everything in my power to come back before making that decision.

“I think if I hadn’t done that, I’d have regretted it in years to come. I decided early on that I would give myself every opportunit­y to return, because I knew even for life after rugby I would need to do the rehab.

“I threw everything into that and whatever happened, happened, and thankfully I have got the opportunit­y to be back among the boys in the Welsh squad, which is a huge honour.”

Next up for Wales are Argentina, fresh from beating England at Twickenham at the weekend. It is another huge test for Owens and his team-mates.

He added: “It’s always meant the world to me, representi­ng my country. You probably don’t appreciate things as much until it’s taken away from you.

“Just trying to see if I would be good enough to pull on the shirt, I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it.”

 ?? ?? Wales hooker Ken Owens is tackled by Beauden Barrett of New Zealand.
Picture: Huw Evans Agency
Wales hooker Ken Owens is tackled by Beauden Barrett of New Zealand. Picture: Huw Evans Agency

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