Injured Dan on the comeback trail

FELIXSTOWE fly half Dan Freeman will be supporting his team from the touchline this weekend as they look for more vital points to stay top of the table.

FELIXSTOWE fly half Dan Freeman will be supporting his team from the touchline this weekend as they look for more vital points to stay top of the table.

He is recovering from surgery to a prolonged shoulder injury that has caused him to miss all of this season so far.

Freeman, 25, has been playing rugby for over 10 years, predominantly for Felixstowe, and was last year's player of the season at the club, as well as the highest points scorer for 05/06.

Dan's problems began around three years ago when, during a match for Felixstowe, he took a big hit. It was initially thought that he had broken his collarbone but later investigation suggested a dislocated shoulder, which was popped back in, and, two weeks later, Dan was back in the squad.

However, over the next few months Freeman experienced regular dislocations, both whilst playing rugby and at work and, with each dislocation, it became easier to just 'pop' back in.

Freeman said: “At that time, it became a regular occurrence, and I would often dislocate my shoulder whilst swimming, and sometimes, even in my sleep.”

Most Read

“When it reached the point where it would be unusual for it not to dislocate, I decided to pay my GP a visit.”

Dan's GP referred him to the physiotherapy department at the Bartlett Hospital but, after several treatments, nothing seemed to be changing, so Dan was referred to Ipswich Hospital for a C T scan.

The scan was successful in discovering a fracture to Freeman's glenoid, the socket that holds the shoulder in place. This fracture had weakened the area and frequent dislocation was the result. An operation was his only option.

From his initial referral to Ipswich Hospital to the date of the operation, Freeman had to wait 18 months and, during this time continued to work and play rugby, learning to live with the pain and inconvenience of the dislocations.

But the surgery soon came around, and in September of this year, Dan went under the knife of a specialist surgeon. The procedure took four-and-a-half hours and he was back at home after just one night's bed rest.

Following the surgery, Dan had to wear a sling for five weeks, immobilising his arm and, most importantly, his shoulder. The sling came off last week and he is optimistic about his future, both on, and off the rugby pitch.

He said: “I am to avoid any physical activity for four months and will have to have some ongoing physio, which I will receive from both the NHS and my employer.”

“I have had to take a lot of time off from work but my bosses have been really supportive and I hope to return on light duties at the end of this month.”

Dan is employed as a dockworker at the Port of Felixstowe, who have their own medical teams for all employees.

When asked about whether he is keen to get back out onto the rugby pitch, Freeman doesn't hesitate.

“I can't wait, nothing has been mentioned about my returning to rugby by the doctors but it is such an important part of my life and I'd love to be back out there in the new year.”

“This is a relatively common injury in this sport and I am aware of a few other players who have had the same procedure, one even had both shoulders done at the same time.”

Rugby has recently seen a lot of newspaper inches dedicated to its brutality, and the increasing risks of injury, but this doesn't worry Dan.

He said: “Most, if not all of the people who play amateur rugby, are well aware of the risks involved, and see the impact it has on the body through watching the professional game.”

“There's a risk to all sports, and you weigh those risks up against the pros, such as the fantastic social side to being in such a club.”

But having had such an injury at such a young age, would Freeman be so happy if any of his future children wished to take up the sport?

“Oh yes, definitely, in fact if I do have a son, I'd encourage him away from football and toward rugby from an early age, as I am from a family of keen rugby players.”

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter