Latham’s pain game is cause for optimism


Rugby Correspondent

The sight of Chris Latham writhing in agony on the Sixways turf on Friday night was one to chill anyone associated with Worcester Warriors – except Chris Latham.

The former Australia international claims from the second he clashed with Newcastle’s Tom Dillon and felt a stabbing pain in his left knee he knew he had not suffered a career-threatening injury.

Director of rugby Mike Ruddock admitted afterwards the words ‘reconstructive’ and ‘surgery’ flashed through his mind and most of the 10,000 people crammed into Sixways feared something similar, but Latham’s experience of such matters told him it wasn’t as serious.

The Wallaby legend has undergone the knife several times during his sparkling career but thankfully does not need to on this occasion and although he misses this Sunday’s Guinness Premiership clash with Saracens the early prognosis suggests he could be back within a fortnight.

Although there remain concerns over ligament strain rather than mere bruising, the situation is not as bad as everyone but Latham first feared.

“I knew I hadn’t done it all again,” he said. “You don’t get pain when you do your ACL or MCL – you don’t get anything. When there’s pain it’s sometimes good.

“I have done my knees quite a few times. It’s a bit of a panic area for me but this time it’s just a matter of giving it the time it needs and hopefully everything will be fine.”

The injury comes at a bad time for Latham who after a relatively – by his high standards – modest start, has played outstandingly in the last few matches.

He scored his first league try against Newcastle and was rightfully awarded man of the match.

“I have definitely improved,” he said. “It was always going to be difficult coming into a new side not knowing what the guys inside and outside we were going to do. We are starting to get those combinations now which is good.

“But I never think I am playing well. I am always after that perfect game. I am definitely happy with the way I am playing but is it great rugby? I’ll never do that because I’ll never be totally happy. I have to keep improving.”

Meanwhile, fly half Matthew Jones could be out for six weeks having had the injury which saw him hobble off in Friday’s win over the Falcons diagnosed as a stress fracture in his foot.

The early outlook suggests the 24-year-old will miss at least four games including the vital Premiership matches with Saracens and Bristol on December 20.

However, Ruddock is optimistic the former Wales international can make it back in time to face Newcastle two days after Christmas.

“Hopefully he can beat the medical guys’ expectations and get back after four weeks rather than six,” Ruddock said. “It’s a similar injury to the one Dale Rasmussen had last year. He’s in a protective boot and will have to stay off it.

“It’s a shame because he has been playing well. He has made quite an impression in the short period he has been with us but it gives a chance for Loki [Crichton] and Joey Carlisle to show what they can do.”

Chris Fortey will have his shoulder injury monitored and has an evens chance of facing Sarries while Hal Luscombe, who was not ready for his expected comeback in last night’s development team match in Henley, could make a first appearance on the bench.

“Ideally we’ll wait until there’s less pressure on him in the Bourgoin matches but we’ll throw him in to training this week and if he does well he could make the replacements on Sunday,” said Ruddock.