Luke Marshall has revealed that he came close to retiring just several months ago as he struggled to get back up to speed after a serious injury.
The Ulsterman made his debut for his province as a 19-year-old back in 2010, while Marshall won his first cap for Ireland in 2013 against Scotland in the Six Nations.
Marshall last played for Ireland in 2017 however, as numerous injuries kept him sidelined for much of the last four years, the latest being a knee injury sustained in November 2020 which kept him out for 16 months.
He is back to being a regular starter for Ulster now however, and the 31-year-old has been a stand out player for Dan McFarland’s side in the opening rounds of the URC.
Speaking on the BBC’s Ulster Rugby Show, Marshall admitted that he feared his career as a professional rugby player was over as he struggled to keep up during preseason training earlier this year.
Luke Marshall on his injury struggles.
“You definitely have those thoughts [about being forced to retire]. Ulster have progressed so well over the last three, four years, particularly over the last two years,” Marshall said.
“It’s great to see, but at the same time you’re going ‘they’re progressing without me and I’m not as young as I once was,’ so you have those doubts.
“Preseason hit me like a tonne of bricks. I just felt behind the pace of the game. I remember coming home to Grace [his wife] a couple of times and saying ‘I’m done, I’m not at the pace and I’m nearly embarrassing myself’.
“I didn’t know if I could keep playing at this level, but I got back up to a decent level for the pre-season game and thought I went well in that. I’m happy with the games I’ve been in [this season].”
— BKT United Rugby Championship (URC) (@URCOfficial) September 21, 2022
The centre is getting back to his best.
Marshall has enjoyed a great start to the season, as he has started in all six of Ulster’s games so far, dispelling any doubts over his match fitness.
The return of James Hume from injury could see his game time at outside centre limited however, while Stuart McCloskey looks set to remain as Ulster’s first-choice at inside-centre.
Nevertheless, Marshall has impressed so far this season, and it will take some impressive performances from Hume to oust his team mate in the number 13 jersey.