When Christian Welch hit the turf at Wollongong’s WIN Stadium in Round 9 his immediate thoughts turned to returning to the defensive line.
The young prop disregarded the potential damage done to his leg and was focused on getting into position to do his next job for the team.
“Initially I heard a loud pop and didn’t think too much of it,” Welch told Storm TV.
“We were defending our try line so I was more stressed about getting a spray from Craig for not getting up and defending so that’s what my focus was.
“I’ve never really had a serious injury like this before so I wasn’t sure what I’d done.”
From there the harsh reality of a season ending knee injury began to set in.
“I got into the sheds and the doc said I’m 99% sure it’s your ACL,” Welch explained.
“That was pretty shattering but I was pretty lucky to have my older brother who was in town – he drove down to Wollongong, the Club got him into the sheds and he sat with me for the rest of the game.
“It was pretty hard at the start.”
Two weeks since a successful operation, Welch has now ditched his crutches and began to walk freely again.
With the help of a fly in visit to Melbourne from his mum and the assistance of housemates Joe Stimson and Cameron Munster, Welch is now ready to focus on his rehabilitation and his return to the field.
“She (mum) really looked after me,” Welch said.
“My housemates Cameron Munster and Joe Stimson have been really supportive and doing the little things.
“Even when I had my surgery plenty of people were reaching out including our numerous fans which was great.”
While shattered about missing the remainder of the season, Welch is pragmatic about his situation and is ready to make the most of off field opportunities while determined to make a successful return to the field in 2018.
“I think it’s been a good time for me to really strengthen other parts of my life outside of footy and really focus on that,” Welch said.
“They probably fall to the wayside when you’re in the week in, week out grind of playing footy.”