There weren't too many celebrations after Munster's opening night 18-13 win over Treviso but one man with reason to be very pleased was hooker Mike Sherry.
The 27-year-old said there were several times over the past 21 months when he thought his career was over as he suffered one injury set-back after another. Were it not for those two years of hell, the Limerick man would undoubtedly have been in contention for a World Cup spot, not least as he was drafted out to New Zealand in 2011 when concerns rose over the fitness of Rory Best.
The Garryowen clubman did not see any action at that tournament but he finally made his debut on the summer tour to the USA in 2013. However, the upward progress of his career came to a halt when he ruptured his cruciate ligament in his left knee against Dragons in November that year.
That should have ruled him out for six months; instead that stretched to 21 months after undergoing shoulder surgery while he was out. That didn’t work, requiring a second operation last summer and then a third surgery last December. Inevitably, there were plenty of days when he thought his career was over.
“Certainly in my own head I never gave up even though there were certainly times when I thought ‘this is not going to come right’ I struggled at times, I was 25 or 26, I didn’t want to know what I wanted to do after rugby, but I had to; my girlfriend was a very good person to talk to at that time, my family was great as well, so I talked to a lot of people.”
, his main rival for the
number two shirt also suffered a serious injury around the same time, while the likes of
and trainer PJ Wilson offered great support. “You get good days and bad days and depending on how the shoulder felt it would dictate my mood which was unfortunate for my family.
“Damien was injured around the same time as me and we would be very good friends. Unfortunately he didn’t win his battle,” he added.
Sherry finally made his return in the pre-season clash against Connacht at Thomond Park and admitted he was a bundle of nerves for his first match in 21 months. “The nervousness was incredible for the first pre-season game. I didn’t know which way it was going to go and I was emotional because at one stage I didn’t think I would ever play again, so to get through the first contact, get through the first few line outs, scrums, that was great.
“I have done 40, 60 and 80 in three games now, I feel fit and the shoulder is holding up fine, just more game time for me is now going to get better. The knee is great, I’ve forgotten about that, but the shoulder is a day-to-day thing, I have to manage it, I’ve had to modify things over 21 months and do things that don’t aggravate my shoulder but it’s just brilliant to be back,” added Sherry who is set to win his 73rd Munster cap away to Ospreys on Sunday.