Leinster and Ireland back Luke Fitzgerald nearly threw in the towel after months of injury setbacks at the age of 27.
Now back in action for Leinster, the 2009 British and Irish Lion has opened up on his ordeal.
Knee ligaments and a neck issue have hampered Fitzgerald’s progress over the last five years, prompting him to evaluate his future and make him weigh up retirement even when he lost belief.
“There absolutely was, yeah,” Fitzgerald told the Irish Times.
“I think what was great was the support in [Leinster] never wavered. Guys were very patient in here with me because there was definitely times when I lost a bit of hope.
“I just thought I am doing three months of rehab here and I’m getting nowhere. I’m in a worse position than when I actually started. It’s been a rough journey.”
Fitzgerald also praised head coach Matt O’Connor, who has come under fire for Leinster’s results since taking over from Joe Schmidt.
“Matty has been fantastic. It has been a tricky time for him with injuries and he has been really really patient with me because there was a time I just said: ‘Listen, I can’t come back in here. I’m banging my head against the wall in here and I’m going nowhere.’ And he was just fantastic, really, really good. I was delighted with that.
“I just think he’s a class act. I just think he has been very unlucky.”