WP Nel ready to hit the ground running for club and country

After a couple of tough years with injury, WP Nel is raring to go this season

Journalist Gary Heatly chatted to the Scotland international ahead of the new campaign.

Scotland tighthead prop WP Nel has handed club and country a massive boost by putting his two-year injury hell behind him and declaring that he will be fit and raring to go for the new season when it gets going in a couple of weeks.

The 32-year-old Edinburgh Rugby man was Scotland’s main front-row power during the 2015 World Cup and since then, the South African-born player has played 22 times for his adopted nation.

He will not be part of the Edinburgh squad playing their first hit out against English side Bath at Boroughmuir’s Meggetland ground in the Scottish capital on Friday night.

However, head coach Richard Cockerill stated on Thursday that the big man should be involved in their next friendly away to Newcastle Falcons on August 24th.

It has been a tough couple of years for Nel.

During 2016/17 and 2017/18, he has had to deal with neck, arm and knee injuries with the former causing real concern and, at one point, leaving his career in the balance.

This summer he had a routine knee operation to clean up an ongoing issue and said: “The body feels well. The mind is fresh so all I can do now is get myself ready and get out on the pitch when the season starts.

“There were worries [with the neck injury], but I am fresh now and the mind is clear and I just want to play.

“I will be ready for the start of the season, there is no doubt about that.”

He added: “It is rugby you can’t choose when and why you are injured so for me it has been a learning curve having not been injured for 10 years and then having two bad years.

“I have learnt how to manage things, get well and get myself back on the pitch.

“Edinburgh have been flying under Richard Cockerill, but now it is time for me to really play my part on the field and show how good I still am.

“There is a lot of competition in the front-row positions here at the club, but for me competition is always a good thing and having the young boys around keeps you honest and on your toes.”

Nel was speaking as rugby was once again the real winner on Sunday, August 12 as East Lothian club Haddington held a superb Royal Bank RugbyForce day.

Despite the weather, the rain did not dampen spirits and a real community effort saw Haddington reach their target of more than 442 players participating in a continuous game of touch and raised funds for Wooden Spoon Scotland in the process.

Haddington is a partner club with Wooden Spoon Scotland and players from as far afield as Kinross and Stirling - as well as across the whole Lothian region - were keen to help both and got involved in the touch game which ran for around six hours.

In total, 458 players were active in the game and now Haddington await the adjudication of Guinness to confirm if a world record has been broken.

The current record was set in 2015 in Richmond, London by school children from 32 local schools.

On the day, Nel was joined by the most recent Scotland captain Stuart McInally in attendance along with Scotland Women’s scrum-half Sarah Law.

Nel stated: “Ever since my family moved to Scotland a few years back, we have been made to feel welcome in the wider rugby community and days like this are just brilliant while I know about all the great things that Wooden Spoon Scotland do too.”