Ruled out for three months in October, Jonathan Joseph could be back a month earlier than predicted, and this could be crucial for both Bath and Eddie Jones’ England.
Bath have struggled without their star player and have fallen to eighth in the table after a poor showing against Leicester. Three losses in four games mean Joseph’s reappearance can’t come soon enough for head coach Mike Ford.
Last season the Wasps only lost six games all season, and with three losses already before Christmas this season, it’ll take an almighty push to reach the heights of 14/15. Bath will be hoping the start of their revival will come against Northampton on Saturday, but this will come a little soon for the young midfielder.
Late December sees Bath play Worcester and Newcastle within a week, and the rush will be on to get him fully match-fit before then. The Warriors are level on points with the Wasps, and the Falcons could potentially still be fighting hard for their first win of the season, so there will be no easy return.
At 24 Joseph is still a young player with just as much potential as current ability, but time is precious as inside every great player is a hunger for success. The Wasps have missed him, but the injury will be harder on the Joseph himself. A great medical team will have worked tirelessly to bring the length of the injury down, but rest assured Joseph will not have been using his time injured to play computer games or brush up on a foreign language.
Whether it’s watching a rugby drill video or logging on to http://www.sportplan.net/, you can be sure he’ll have been working on the theoretical side of his game so that he comes back better than ever.
Hopes of a Nation
Joseph’s early return is also great news for England’s Six Nations bid. Although he’s expected to be fit before kick-off in February, a few games to get back to full match fitness are important – and doubly so if there’s a new manager to impress. England Player of the Year and Player’s Player of the Year awards last year were a perfect finish to his season, but he’ll be hungry for more and knows past accolades will count for nothing under new management.