Following a year of intense recovery and rehabilitation, Christian Welch has finally re-joined his teammates on the track as pre-season training ramps up for the upcoming 2023 season.
Suffering a season-ending achilles injury in the opening round of the 2022 season, the 28-year-old was nearing eight months away from the rugby league regime, before returning to training in November.
Welch: "'Tracking well for Round 1'"
“I’m back training and slowly integrating into the skills, so all tracking really well for Round 1,” Welch said.
It's really good to get out there and run around with the guys...it's a long time separated from the group, so it's been nice,Christian Welch
“Hopefully by January I'll be full noise.”
Initially, the forward entered his rehab program with the goal of playing in the Grand Final if Storm were to make it to the big dance.
Unfortunately, his high hopes blinded him to the reality that the re-injury risk was just too high. Having already done his ACL twice, the forward wasn’t willing to risk delaying his return anymore.
"I was really hopeful to trying to get back but I think once I accepted that I wouldn't get back we just really slowed it down and focussed on the strength,” Welch admitted.
"Particularly with my injury history, we kind of shut it down after that and just focussed on getting strength and getting ready for Round 1.”
Having endured three major injuries throughout his NRL career, Welch hasn’t had the smoothest run so far.
With long and sometimes lonely recovery processes, the post-injury life can leave some disheartened with their future in sport. However, the Easts Tigers junior refuses the idea of leaving ever crossed his mind.
“Obviously there's some pretty down times, but I've had a lot of really good times,” Welch shared.
“I love coming into training with some of the guys. We're lucky we're at a really successful club, won a lot of footy plaques and representative games and those highs, they're pretty amazing,
“With the body, obviously, it's been a bit disappointing sometimes with the injuries, but no, I've never, I've always wanted to keep playing.”