The ankle injury that marred Wallabies wing Drew Mitchell's season has recurred and will require surgery which could see him miss the beginning of the Super Rugby campaign for the Waratahs next year.
Mitchell initially suffered the horrific injury in April and was faced with a race against time to get back to full fitness for the World Cup. He ended up going to New Zealand and featured off the bench in games against Ireland and the USA before tearing his hamstring in the match against Russia.
The Waratahs speedster explained that what was meant to be a simple follow-up procedure last week turned into full-blown ligament surgery after it was revealed that the tendon in his ankle had torn.
He told the Sydney Morning Herald: "I had a bit of irritation around the ankle that was coming on towards the end of my World Cup campaign that I was managing and then despite having a little bit of time off because of the hamstring tear, the ankle was getting worse.
"So I got a few scans and things done, and there was a bit of a bone irregularity that needed to be shaved back because the tendon was flicking over it and it was being irritated.
"We were hoping it'd be as simple as just going in there and shaving back the bone, but when they got in there they saw that the tendon was already torn four centimetres, so they had to remove part of it, about 20 percent, to allow it to grow back to its normal state and strength," explained Mitchell.
The elusive outside back conceded that his legs were not completely ready for the intensity of the World Cup after such a long lay-off, which is probably what caused the hamstring injury, and added that he would not be making the same mistake again even if it means missing the first few Super Rugby games next year.
He said: "At this stage I should be ready to start playing again by the end of February but I rushed back pretty quickly to get back for the World Cup and, in the end, not having the conditioning in my legs caused a big tear in my hammy and back problems.
"The body wasn't able to cope with the workload and fatigue, and that's probably why I'm where I am now.
"So this time around I want to make sure I've got the metres under my legs, the muscle and conditioning to be able to take the workload. I'll gauge it as I'm going through my rehab but I'm not going to be in any rush this time," added Mitchell.
This year held so much promise for the Waratahs gas-man who started the Super Rugby season in scintillating form but his injury woes ruined what could have been and Mitchell conceded that the sooner he could put 2011 behind him the better as he tried to search for the positives in this latest development.
"The general feel is now that it's good that we know what we're dealing with. I'm on crutches, non-weight bearing, and in a week I'll get in the boot and be able to walk around a little bit and pretty much start again from scratch.
"So 2011, I won't be too sad to see the back of it come New Year's Eve," he said.
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