By Chris Jones
BBC Radio 5 live rugby union reporter
England and Worcester centre Ben Te’o says his injury problems of the past year left him contemplating his future in the sport.
A thigh injury forced Te’o out of England’s tour of South Africa, just months after recovering from a serious ankle problem.
The 31-year-old now hopes to return in the “earlier part” of the new season.
“You have a couple of injuries back to back and you start to wonder ‘is this worth it?'” Te’o said.
He told BBC Radio 5 live: “A lot of players would feel the same. I’ve come back from some tough injuries, and once you’re back it’s brilliant, but the time off is tough.
“When I was getting ready for surgery for my quad, I was laying in the bed with the gown on, about to go under [the knife] again, and I was thinking ‘I can’t believe I am going under again for another op’ – more crutches and all that.
“But sometimes that’s the way it goes with injuries. You can have a couple of good years, and then sometimes it can go back to back to back and you just can’t get away from it.
“I’m praying and hoping I can get fit and play, and [an injury] doesn’t come back. [It’s been] frustrating.”
New Zealand-born former rugby league player Te’o, who has won 15 England caps since switching to union, says he is determined not to hurry his latest recovery after being forced into rushing back too quickly “plenty of times” in his career.
“That’s sometimes part and parcel with this game. In both codes I’ve played there are lots of times where you get pressured into coming back early,” he said.
“Sometimes you can play yourself into match fitness, but if you get hurt again you regret doing it. But fingers crossed that doesn’t happen. [The aim is to] get back fit, stay back and contribute.”
After playing a leading role for the British and Irish Lions in New Zealand, including a start in the first Test against the All Blacks, Te’o suffered a serious ankle injury in October in a rare appearance for the Warriors against Brive in Europe.
“When you come here as a marquee player and you are not playing, people ask questions,” he said.
“But I snapped my ankle out here playing for Worcester, I ruptured all the ligaments in it. I have a plate, I have screws in it, so it wasn’t like I was on the beach chilling out.
“I would love to get out here and play week in, week out. But that’s just not real anymore, not in this day and age. I would love to get back fit and play every game for Worcester this season. Is that realistic? I don’t know. Maybe, we will see.”
Te’o returned for the Six Nations after paying for his own rehabilitation in Australia, and aims to feature for England in next year’s World Cup, but says the ankle pain will forever linger.
“Unfortunately this ankle is something I feel every day and will deal with for the rest of my life, arthritis and that kind of stuff, but there are so many boys that are banged up,” he said.
“I think about packing it in the whole time when I wake up and my foot is stiff.
“But then you get to training and start loosening up. Once you are out playing, and you’ve played five weeks on the bounce, life is really good.”