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Welch takes LA Lakers tips after cruel ACL contract blow

Christian Welch's recovery from the ACL rupture that cost him a lucrative move to Parramatta has taken him all the way to the multi-million dollar facilities of NBA powerhouse Los Angeles Lakers.

Welch has resumed a full training load with the Storm and is hoping to get back on the paddock in their February 29 trial against North Queensland in Casey, putting him in the frame for a round-one NRL return.

The Queensland Origin prop had his 2019 campaign ended, and a three-year offer from the Eels scotched, when he suffered a second ACL tear against Brisbane in August.

Welch then activated a contract option in his favour to remain at Melbourne this year, having feared an earlier knee injury in May was also season-ending.

Having been through a gruelling rehab process already after undergoing a knee reconstruction in 2017, Welch travelled to Los Angeles last month for 10 days of rehab at UCLA, working out of the same facilities used by the Lakers.

Welch's work with UCLA's Kevin Zapanta, who has previously trained athletes in the NFL Combine, has complemented his Storm rehab program and has him bidding to return eight months after going down at Suncorp Stadium.

 
 
 
 
 
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LA Lakers training facilities 🔥and yes that’s 10 championship trophies staring down at the players on the practice court

A post shared by Christian Welch (@christianlwelch) on

The 25-year-old is already well-versed in the fickle ways of rugby league fate.

His previous ACL rupture cost him a place in a grand final winning side, while his latest setback has him coming back from injury with his contract beyond 2020 up in the air.

"It can just change so quick. Last year I was pretty close to signing elsewhere and obviously I did my knee and from there you just need to work hard at getting back, playing well and then assessing your options," Welch told NRL.com.

"I just need to get back and play well, then see what's out there and where things sit.

"It's a bit of an unstable time for me, I haven't been in this position before. We broke up into small groups in [Storm] pre-season camp where we were talking about personal experiences, and it's something that came up and it is something that scares me a little bit.

"A lot of it is out of your control. You can do all the work and it can still go again.

"But being back around the main playing group training again, I'm reminding myself not to take this for granted.

"It's such an amazing job we do and we're so privileged to do it, you remember to enjoy the pre-season and gearing up for what's hopefully another successful season."

Welch's 2019 campaign had a bit of everything, with 16 games around the two knee injuries and a cherished Maroons debut in the Origin III thriller.

A post-season trip to Uganda with Ryan Papenhuyzen and Tim Mannah for Compassion Australia broke up his rehab, with the UCLA visit to follow.

 
 
 
 
 
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Great time in LA working with specialist @coach_zap30 getting prepped for 2020⚡️ @exossports

A post shared by Christian Welch (@christianlwelch) on

Welch has switched up his running technique as a result of the Stateside insight.

"We did some biomechanics testing and identified that I'm a quad dominant runner and I need to strengthen up my posterior muscles, and we worked on rebuilding the lower leg muscles so I'm not as reliant on my quads to stop and do all the work," Welch said.

"It's been a different program with some ideas after doing some rehab in LA.

"The Americans do things a little bit differently, over there I was doing almost a physio session through weights, I was doing weights in a running position compared to things here in the gym which is more squatting and lifting.

"Ideally it will build up my other muscles and keep me on the paddock."