Wallabies inside centre Pat McCabe has played his first solid match since breaking his neck eight months ago against the British and Irish Lions.
Brumbies centre Pat McCabe says his match-ending head knock two weeks ago has helped rebuild his confidence following two broken necks.
The Wallabies’ inside centre took a giant leap in his long road to recovery on Friday night when he played 70 minutes in the Brumbies’ scrappy 38-7 win over an ACT XV in Canberra.
It was the longest McCabe had spent on the park since he played the Rebels in June last year as, weeks later, he would break his neck for the second time in seven months during the first British and Irish Lions Test.
McCabe’s comeback game against the Highlanders in Queenstown two weeks ago lasted just 15 minutes after the hard-running 20-Test centre left the field in a daze.
But in an ironic twist, the 25-year-old says the head knock has actually helped fortify his mettle.
“If anything, it was a good test on my neck, as it was a good hit on my head,” McCabe says.
“My neck came through fine. Although it was obviously frustrating not to get any consistency in the trial games.”
McCabe’s lack of game time was apparent on Friday night, yet he’s the first to admit he has some work to do before he gets back to his hole-punching best.
“Just a little bit of timing, and just a few little mistakes that come with not having played in a while,” McCabe said.
“But once I got that first contact, from there I felt pretty good.”
Brumbies head coach Stephen Larkham will decide whether to keep McCabe at inside centre for their Super Rugby season opener against the Queensland Reds on Saturday, or opt for dynamic Japanese international Harumichi Tatekawa or the ever-reliable Andrew Smith.
The fact Wallabies outside centre Tevita Kuridrani will go into the match with no trial games under his belt following his suspension will also have to be taken into consideration by Larkham.
“I’m not too sure what Bernie (Larkham) is thinking to be honest, but all I can say is that I’d love to be there,” McCabe said.