Tom Curry has revealed details of the “major” hip injury which required the Sale and England winger to undergo lengthy career-saving surgery, after rejecting the option of having a metal hip inserted like in tennis great Andy Murray.
Curry is working his way back to full fitness after a six-hour operation but currently has no planned return date, having not played since England’s last bronze medal at the Rugby World Cup before his operation at the end of November.
Curry has detailed for the first time the devastating extent of the injury which forced him to relearn how to walk and run, and noted that his playing time gradually decreased during the end of the World Cup, playing only 49 minutes against Argentina, previously. the realization set was necessary in that operation.
“We thought it was tight hip flexors, but the amount of time it took to play the games went down,” Curry said in an interview with Sharks TV, Sale’s in-house media channel, which will be released on Tuesday.
“I came back and tried to play for Sale and I couldn’t really do that so we had a scan, and I found that there was an arthritic change inside the hip; labrum and cartilage tears. The radiologist’s report was a long list, a bit like a car accident. But the surgeon went in and was very happy when we came out, which gave me a lot of confidence.”
Curry’s surgery involved reshaping the head of the femur, fixing and stitching the labrum tears, before adding some synthetic cartilage and covering it with stem cells. The extensive operation was Curry’s choice out of three possible options.
“It was one to leave him; that was not going to happen the way I was walking and running. There were two [the surgery], and then there was the resurfacing of three places where they put the metal in. I wasn’t ready for that, I wanted to keep my hip. Surgery was the best option of the three.”
Murray was 31 when he opted to undergo hip resurfacing surgery back in 2018, after suffering from joint pain for several years. Curry, who won his 50th cap for England in their final World Cup last November and has played three Tests for the British and Irish Lions, is still only 25.
After spending the first two weeks after his surgery living downstairs at his parents’ house while he recuperated, Curry has dived enthusiastically into this rehab.
“[The medical staff] I wanted on the bike the day after the surgery. After two or three weeks I was able to gently start rehabbing, loosening the hip up. Honestly, right away you could feel it. As soon as I was able to move it to the side my hips just went. It was a refreshing feeling.
“After the scan, the first few weeks were hard because he was accepting it. There were many unknowns. You are a little helpless. You have all this information and you’re just sitting there waiting. When the surgery was done, I was flying. You can start getting better and feeling better.”
‘It’s almost teaching yourself to walk again’
Despite those positive developments, Curry added that the reason no deadline has been set for his return is to not put any additional pressure on an already complicated recovery process, which includes relearning how to walk and run.
“It was pretty relaxing,” he said. “In terms of coming back to play, I don’t really know. It is day by day. If you take a step and your hips feel bad, your mood goes down. If you do that and your hip feels good, your mood goes up.
“So it’s about trying to get rid of all that stuff and keep it as simple as possible.
“The main thing is to restart the current mechanics. We’re focusing on muscle strength but now it’s about being able to use that within the range. We’ve stretched but you have to teach yourself to run again – even teach yourself to walk again. Every week it gets better.”
That meant Curry was a spectator at home as he watched England kick off their new World Cup cycle, with the former England captain worried he could not help his country in the Six Nations.
“It’s definitely frustrating, but it gives you a bit of an edge going into your next training session, you’ve got a jump in your step. You have something you want to do and, watching England, it gives you that drive to push on and work a little bit harder.”
While Curry looks set to regress, certainly next season rather than this campaign, the good news of his continued progress should come as encouragement to Sale and England supporters despite such a major operation.
‘Kamikaze Kid’ has been affected by intensity and game time
By Ben Coles
A few years ago, Tom Curry’s English peers wondered if the side could maintain its intensity without the need to retire before the age of 30.
Separately, at the start of the 2019 Rugby World Cup, England coach Eddie Jones noted that ‘Kamikaze Kid’ carry and Sam Underhill sidekicks were “just rips and tears. They have no care for their bodies and are at the forefront of our protection effort”.
With that in mind, hearing Curry discuss when he might return to the field, an unknown date in the future, might prompt two reactions.
First of all, that his warning about his long-term recovery from such a major operation on his hip is extremely wise. It’s a mature approach that shouldn’t come as a surprise coming from a player who has achieved so much at such a young age, captained England and served as vice-captain in his winning half-century of caps for his country and three others for. The British and Irish Lions against South Africa.
There is also the shock that a 25-year-old athlete who is on the verge of becoming a major rugby player has to learn how to even move his body again.
Curry has always been a great drive and tireless ruckman, and yet as the Rugby World Cup progressed, his minutes on the field dwindled, leading to a major crossroads in his career. .
Since his Test debut on the summer tour to Argentina back in 2017, only six of Curry’s team have played more minutes for England (in order): Maro Itoje, Owen Farrell, Jonny May, Elliot Daly , Jamie George and Henry Slade.
It is less than 18 months since Curry spoke about his mother expressing concern about whether jackalling in rugby was safe.
“It’s rugby and you can’t change it – it’s the sport we love. The only tricky part is when people start rolling in and pulling around,” Curry said at the time, a little blessed.
Not just for his own safety but for the safety of his twin brother, Ben, who injured his chest after being the victim of a ‘crocodile roll’ at a wreck last May – where a jackalling player is effectively rolled to the relegated side – who ruled Gallagher out of the Premiership final for Sale.
This area always needs to be tackled and the severity of Tom’s injury should have raised alarm bells.
The two Currys will always be compared because they are twins in the backfield, with Ben playing in more games (154 to 146) but Tom playing more minutes (9,112 to 8,715).
Of course Tom played a lot more Test matches, where the level of physicality is more intense than the club game.