- Scrum half delighted to be back in England Counties fold after injury
- "I’m very excited about being involved again and looking forward to it" - Peck
Photo: RFU Archive
When Harry Peck touched down under the posts on his debut for England Counties against a Madrid XV last June, it was the proudest moment of his rugby career.
Sadly, it was only a moment. In stretching over the line to score, the fine art student from Tynedale left behind a trailing arm that a defender grabbed to haul him back.
The outcome was a shoulder dislocation that needed surgery and seven months rehabilitation.
Tomorrow, scrum-half Peck will complete his painful journey back into the international arena when he plays for England Counties against the Ulster Bank International Team at Preston Grasshoppers.
“Madrid was a very unhappy experience,” he says: “I wasn’t allowed to join the post-match celebrations and I was on my way home next morning at 9am. It was a bit depressing.”
An operation finally followed a month later, followed by a frustrating wait until he was able to resume playing at the end of November. At that point there was a different source of frustration to endure.
“When you’re playing well and then have a time out, you think you’ll continue the form you had, but it just doesn’t happen,” he says. “It takes time to get back to match fitness and to get mentally sharpened up once again.
“I tried to ease my way back into it with Tynedale, but my brain wasn’t thinking as quickly as it should have done – it took a few games to get back up to speed.
“Luckily I found a bit of form and here I am, although my objective was simply to get back to full fitness and get playing again. Rugby is a part of my life that adds balance. I’m an amateur player and rugby is just another dimension to who I am and what I do.
“If I’m playing well I’m a happy bloke and to get back to playing well and enjoying it at my club was the priority. I wasn’t sure whether I would have enough games to be considered for the Counties, but happily things have worked out as well as I could have hoped.
“Now I’m very excited about being involved again and looking forward to it. Let’s hope I can last and enjoy a night out, although Tynedale play Blaydon on Saturday and I might be involved, so it will have to be a subdued affair.
“But to be back in the starting line-up after what happened in Spain – it’s brilliant. What more could I ask for?”
Top of that list might be a strong display from three teammates from the North East, who have a crucial role of the Counties are to establish a set-piece platform.
Front row trio Rob Kalbraier, Matt Hall and David Dickinson are at the coalface in tomorrow’s starting line-up, with lock Chris Wearmouth and flanker Sam Shires waiting on the sidelines for the call to make an impact. Peck should have nothing to worry about.
England Counties (v Ulster Bank International Team at Preston Grasshoppers, Friday, March 16, kick-off 7.30pm): Peter Hodgkinson (Ealing Trailfinders); Owen Bruynseels (Ealing Trailfinders), Andrew Henderson (Barking), Tom Wheatcroft (Ealing Trailfinders), Phil Chesters (Ealing Trailfinders); Ross Laidlaw (Rosslyn Park), Harry Peck (Tynedale); Robbie Kalbraier (Blaydon), Matt Hall (Blaydon), David Dickinson (Tynedale), Louis McGowan (Sedgley Park), Robbie Hurrell (Stourbridge), Lee Starling (Ealing Trailfinders), Dave Allen (Blackheath), Rob Baldwin (Wharfedale) capt
Replacements: Sam Wilkes (Cinderford), Tom Mantell (Macclesfield), Chris Wearmouth (Blaydon), Sam Shires (Tynedale), Philip Woodhead (Wharfedale), Mike Waywell (Fylde)*, Chris Briers (Fylde)*
*denotes previous Counties appearance