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Wallaby Mitchell haunted by injury drama
Steve Jancetic
14:50 AEST Fri Jan 11 2013

Not a day goes by that Wallabies winger Drew Mitchell doesn't relive the nightmare of breaking his ankle.

It's a recurring vision stemming from the ugly collison which left him with a broken and dislocated ankle while playing for the Waratahs against Queensland early in 2011.

But it was only when those thoughts filled his head on the short bus trip to Australia's Test against Wales last month that Mitchell realised he had a problem.

"Absolutely - I picture myself a number of times daily snapping it so obviously there's still something there that I haven't dealt with," Mitchell told AAP of the mental demons he still faces.

"I was thinking about it on the bus on the way to the Welsh Test - I thought at that point there was probably a need to address it so, when I got back, I made a few calls and I'm on top of it now.

"Speaking to guys that have done it before, it's something that I dealt with initially but I probably more suppressed it more that anything and hadn't dealt with it entirely."

Physically, Mitchell says his body feels great ahead of the Super Rugby season.

He returned to pre-season training under new Waratahs coach Michael Chieka this week, and hopes the shocking injury run he has endured over the 18 months before last year's spring tour with the Wallabies was finally behind him.

The 28-year-old did well to return to the Test squad in November, after he was told he might never play again having re-injured his troublesome right ankle against the All Blacks in August.

The Test against Italy in November was just his third starting role for the Wallabies in 13 months.

No wonder he finds it hard to get his head around the injury.

"It's been a pretty tough time - hopefully that's passed," Mitchell said.

"Certainly I'm not beyond it - it still plays with the mind a bit here and there and I'm doing things to minimise that.

"It's just the reality of an injury of that sort of significance.

"You can always do exercises to fix the physical side but, when you see your leg distorted the way it was, there's going to be some sort of mental scarring and that's probably something we're not that skilled at dealing with."

While Mitchell has his battles off the field, he said he returned to pre-season training early to ensure he was well-placed to handle those on it as well, with competition for spots in the Waratahs only intensifying with the recruitment of code-swapper Israel Folau.

"That's something at the Waratahs that we've always been blessed with is depth ... everyone's going to start the season fit and available - that's a luxury we haven't had the last couple of years," he said.

Meanwhile, the Waratahs have signed former Australia A flanker Mitchell Chapman for the 2013 season as a replacement for injured hooker Damien Fitzpatrick.

Fitzpatrick was ruled out for the season after re-injuring his knee during the latter stages of his rehabilitation from a ACL reconstruction.

AAP sj/gc


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