The sight of Chris Pennell ghosting on to Andy Short’s shoulder, taking his off-load and careering across the Birmingham & Solihull try line was proof that both physically and mentally the spring has returned to his step.
The 23-year-old played his first game in nine months at Damson Park last Saturday and marked the occasion with a gleefully taken try – his first since the final game of last season when Gloucester visited Sixways.
That strike rate of two in two doesn’t begin to tell the story, however.
Within a few weeks of being named club captain, Pennell broke his ankle in pre-season and – until Saturday – had not played since.
In truth, his performance against Bees was a long way short of his slashing, dashing best but small acorns and all that. Indeed, the full back reckons he has taken the latest step on the road to recovery, one he thinks will last at least 12 months.
“An injury like this you are probably not exactly right for a year,” Pennell admitted.
“There are still things I am down on, my speed and length strength a little bit – these are things that will comeback over the next two or three months.
“I will be able to do a job in the play-offs hopefully, and then have a full pre-season under my belt, come back hopefully in the Premiership – if it all goes the way we want – and then hit the ground running again.”
If Pennell’s positivity translates into good form, Richard Hill will have some player at his disposal.
This, after all, is a young man who has overcome diabetes and two knee surgeries in the last few years.
The hope is that his body does not undermine his considerable natural talent.
“I have come back from injuries and been better and hopefully this one will be the same,” he said.
“Give me a few weeks and hopefully I will be a better player than this time last year.
“If injury happens it happens and if it means I cannot carry on playing then so be it but it could happen to anybody.
“As far as I am concerned the rehab work that I have done means I am in a position now where I can compete at this level and above.
“I have given myself the best opportunity with the hard work I have put in off the pitch to achieve what I want on it.”