Doncaster Knights: Mat Clark speaks on his injury, rehabilitation and this weekend's derby at Yorkshire Carnegie
Strong-running centre Mat Clark was a mere spectator as Doncaster Knights put Championship rivals Rotherham Titans to the sword at Castle Park on Saturday.
And that wil continue to be Clark's lot for the next few weeks as he continues his rehab ahead of his eagerly-awaited return to the Doncaster ranks.
“It’s frustrating missing the start of the season for the first time in my career,” said the 28-year-old.
Clark had just got back into the squad after a ten-week lay-off, following ankle surgery in February, when he suffered a freak accident between the two play-off semi-finals.
“I snapped my fibia and dislocated my ankle after jumping up for a ball in training and slipping on landing,” he recalled.
“Mentally it hasn’t been a problem (being sidelined) because I always knew I was going to miss the start of the season. It’s not as though I’d grafted for 12 weeks and then picked up an injury. I think that is possibly worse.”
Clark is naturally keen to get back playing as quickly as possible but says he has no specific date he is aiming for – though he expects to be back before the end of the year.
“It will take as long as it takes,” he said. “I’m able to do upper-body work in the gym but my running is currently limited to anti-gravity treadmills.”
Given the fact that he hasn’t played for most of the year, Clark anticipates it will probably take him ‘three or four games’ to get back up to speed when he does return to action.
Ever the professional, Clark said: “I’ll try and make sure that I’m in reasonable shape so that when I do get the call I won’t be the weak link in the team.
“There’s no doubt about it, it is going to be tough trying to get back into the team especially competing with players who have had a full pre-season and a number of games under their belts.
“The club have also made several good signings so there is going to be a lot of competition for places.”
One of the games Clark will miss is this weekend’s fixture against Yorkshire Carnegie at Headingley.
Having joined Knights from the Leeds club back in 2013 the Yorkshire derby is always a game he looks forward to playing in.
“It’s always good to play in the local derbies and as a player I always like to play against the best teams,” he said.
“I’m certainly hoping to play against Bristol, who we’ve also got in the B&I Cup, because they’ve made some big signings, and Ealing, who are another very strong Championship side.”
Although Clark won’t be in action at Headingley he’ll be there cheering the side on to what he hopes will be a third successive win.
“We lost there last season but we didn’t do ourselves justice on a cold, wet night,” he said. “The boys are playing well so hopefully we can go there and avenge that defeat.
“They’ve lost some of their key players from last season but they can still turn out a strong Championship team.”