Weir puts injury woes behind him and aims to sign off on a high

The fly-half is linked with Worcester, but as yet is not saying where he will be playing next season

Duncan Weir in action against Ulster on Friday.
Duncan Weir in action against Ulster on Friday. Image: ©Fotosport/David Gibson.

WHEN Duncan Weir picked up a groin strain earlier this season, he knew what to expect. An irritating but minor problem, it would force him to spend just a few weeks on the sidelines before returning to action.

Or so he thought. Instead, the strain became a serious infection, and by the time the stand-off was able to resume playing – four months later, rather than the predicted four weeks – he had been deemed surplus to requirements at Edinburgh.

Since his comeback, of course, Weir has put in several vital displays for his present team, helping them get to the verge of the PRO14 play-offs. But he is still being released at the end of the season, and, while he has now fixed up a new club, he could be forgiven for wondering if things might have turned out differently had a run-of-the-mill injection to ease his initial difficulty not caused that infection.

A simple twist of fate

Would he have been given the chance by Richard Cockerill to re-establish himself as Edinburgh’s first-choice 10, reclaiming the jersey from Jason Tovey? Would the head coach have gone ahead with the signing of Jaco van der Walt, who has since taken over the role of starting fly-half, with Tovey now also due to depart in the summer?

To his credit, Weir is not interested either in such speculative issues, or in any self-pity. The illness, he thinks, was just unfortunate, and now it is well out of the way he is simply looking forward to doing what he can for Edinburgh over the coming weeks before starting a new life elsewhere. (Having almost gone to Worcester on loan in February, he has continued to be linked with the English club, but as yet is not saying where he will be playing by the time next season kicks off).

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Speaking after Edinburgh’s home defeat by Ulster on Friday night, Weir explained how that niggling injury led to such a long absence. “I had a slight groin strain,” he said. “I got advised from a specialist to get a steroid injection. From that injection I was that ‘lucky’ guy, the one-in-a-thousand chance that got an infection from the needle.

“I was on three months of antibiotics from that. It just wasted away everything in my lower body. It was about rebuilding myself back up. It was a very frustrating time and it felt like all my luck was behind me.

“I was pretty mobile the whole time, and then all of a sudden this infection came and I was on crutches for three weeks and struggling to get out of bed to do anything. It was nothing to do with rugby – it was just my pot luck.

“The infection spread round my pelvic ring, so it wasn’t the best of times, but I’ve come back stronger and fitter. These things happen in sport, unfortunately. I was gearing up mentally to come back the second game out in South Africa and then it becomes the turn of the year before I can lace up my boots.”

A few weeks on from the turn of the year, Weir was strong enough to resume playing, and was actually down at Worcester to discuss a loan move when Edinburgh decided they needed him. It was another unforeseen twist, one which worked in his favour this time, as his return has seen him turn in some important performances for the team.

“I was determined to come back and play well and show I was a very good player,” he continued. “Coming back, I had to get a job somewhere else, but it’s a ruthless industry and that’s just the way it works sometimes.

“It has been a frustrating season. As soon as I stopped playing the team changed the way they were playing and I didn’t get the chance to show my best foot. That is the way it goes at time.

“I was determined to come back fitter than ever and in good shape, and the body’s feeling good. It’s about getting minutes on the field and showing my worth.”

While most of those minutes have come off the bench, Weir started on Friday night along with two other backs who will also be parting company with Edinburgh at the end of the current campaign, scrum-half Sam Hidalgo-Clyne and centre Phil Burleigh. All three, according to Weir, will do everything they can to complete the job and get Edinburgh into the play-offs.

“We’re certainly putting our hands forward to make the most of it. We’re still Edinburgh players till the end of June. We have a huge task to do something special with this group of players and push to get in the play-offs, where the club has never been before.”

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About Stuart Bathgate 1235 Articles
Stuart has been the rugby correspondent for both The Scotsman and The Herald, and was also The Scotsman’s chief sports writer for 14 years from 2000.