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McCabe won't risk neck to play

Pat McCabe is optimistic about making a successful comeback from a neck injury.

Pat McCabe is optimistic about making a successful comeback from a neck injury. Photo: Mike Hewitt

Pat McCabe is optimistic about making a successful comeback from the neck injury which ended his European tour, but says he won't risk his life to get back on the field.

The ACT Brumbies star will spend the next two months in a hard-collar neck brace and doesn't know when he will be cleared to play again after suffering a C1 fracture two weeks ago.

It is expected McCabe will miss a large chunk of the Super Rugby season, with surgeons ordering him to take a complete break from training until mid February.

The plan is to return to training after the Brumbies play their opening game, against the Queensland Reds on February 16.

But even then McCabe admitted a recovery and comeback timeframe was unclear.

The Brumbies' vice-captain and medical staff expect him to make a full recovery, but the 24-year-old conceded he had contemplated life without rugby and said he wouldn't play if it risked permanent damage to his neck.

''If the fracture starts to move apart more or it doesn't knit together well, there are obviously some pretty serious issues with playing again,'' McCabe said.

''At this stage I'm trying to stay as positive as I can and I would love to play for the Brumbies and Wallabies again. First and foremost I want to live a happy and normal life and if that means not playing rugby because there's a risk there, then that's the case.

''I love playing, but I'm not going to risk my life to play it. Both surgeons I have seen expect it to heal well so I'm confident.''

McCabe returned to Australia earlier this week after his spring tour with the Wallabies ended after just one game. The inside-centre first injured his neck while playing against France. But the injury flared up in a contact training session before the Test against England and McCabe was sent for scans. He had more scans in Sydney on Thursday and the neurosurgeon has ordered him to wear a hard-neck brace for the rest of the year and a soft-neck brace until mid February.

The Brumbies will wait until McCabe arrives in Canberra before deciding whether they need a new addition to their squad. Because of the serious nature, the Brumbies could ask to draft in another player in McCabe's absence. Local players Sam Windsor and Matt Hawke have impressed while joining the squad for pre-season training and they could be rewarded with a Super Rugby chance.

For McCabe, wearing a neck brace every day is already making life difficult. He can't drive and joked ''it's not the best beach accessory'', but he's determined to do everything right to ensure his recovery goes smoothly.

''The fracture was looking stable [in the scan on Thursday], so that's a good start,'' McCabe said.

''I'll get another scan in two weeks to check if it's still in alignment and initially they thought three months in a hard-neck brace but with any luck that will be two. It's not a lot of fun … I can't drive and not being able to train is something I'm not used to, but hopefully it all goes quickly.''

McCabe has enjoyed a superb rise through the rugby ranks since making his debut for the Brumbies two years ago. He was a rock in the Wallabies back line at the World Cup but he had to have a shoulder reconstruction and missed the start of this year's Super Rugby season.

His neck problem will set him back after cementing his place in the Australian Test side over the past 18 months.

''But hopefully after I come out of this I get a bit of a clear run [with injuries],'' McCabe said.

''I didn't think too much of it when I got a whack on the head [at a ruck], but when it was really painful at training I knew something was wrong.

''Then when we saw the fracture it was a shock. A lot of guys have had much worse injuries than me and come back fine.

''Touch wood I get through this one and it's a bit smoother.''

HuffPost Australia

Rugby World Cup 2015

Round 1
Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
ENG -1vs FJI -1 05:00Twic
TGA 0vs GEO 0 21:00Kholm
IRE 0vs CAN 0 23:30MilS
Sun, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs JPN 0 01:45Brig
FRA 0vs ITA 0 05:00Twic
SAM 0vs USA 0 21:00Brig
WAL 0vs URU 0 23:30MilS
Mon, 21 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs ARG 0 01:45Wemb
Wed, 23 SepTimes shown AEST
SCO 0vs JPN 0 23:30Kholm
Thu, 24 SepTimes shown AEST
AUS 0vs FJI 0 01:45MilS
FRA 0vs ROM 0 05:00The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs NAM 0 05:00The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
ARG 0vs GEO 0 01:45Kholm
ITA 0vs CAN 0 23:30Ella
Sun, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs SAM 0 01:45Villa
ENG 0vs WAL 0 05:00Twic
AUS 0vs URU 0 21:00Villa
SCO 0vs USA 0 23:30Ella
Mon, 28 SepTimes shown AEST
IRE 0vs ROM 0 01:45Wemb
Wed, 30 SepTimes shown AEST
TGA 0vs NAM 0 01:45Sand
Fri, 02 OctTimes shown AEST
WAL 0vs FJI 0 01:45MilS
FRA 0vs CAN 0 05:00stadium:mk
Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs GEO 0 05:00MilS
SAM 0vs JPN 0 23:30stadium:mk
Sun, 04 OctTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs SCO 0 01:45St James' Park
ENG 0vs AUS 0 06:00Twic
Mon, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 0vs TGA 0 00:30KPS
IRE 0vs ITA 0 02:45The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Wed, 07 OctTimes shown AEDT
CAN 0vs ROM 0 02:45KPS
FJI 0vs URU 0 06:00stadium:mk
Thu, 08 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 0vs USA 0 02:45The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
NAM 0vs GEO 0 06:00Sand
Sat, 10 OctTimes shown AEDT
NZL 0vs TGA 0 06:00St James' Park
Sun, 11 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAM 0vs SCO 0 00:30St James' Park
AUS 0vs WAL 0 02:45Twic
ENG 0vs URU 0 06:00Manch
ARG 0vs NAM 0 22:00KPS
Mon, 12 OctTimes shown AEDT
ITA 0vs ROM 0 00:30Sand
FRA 0vs IRE 0 02:45MilS
USA 0vs JPN 0 06:00Kholm
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sun, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinB 0vs RUpA 0 02:00Twic
WinC 0vs RUpD 0 06:00MilS
WinD 0vs RUpC 0 23:00MilS
Mon, 19 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinA 0vs RUpB 0 02:00Twic
Sun, 25 OctTimes shown AEDT
WQF1 0vs WQF2 0 02:00Twic
Mon, 26 OctTimes shown AEDT
WQF3 0vs WQF4 0 03:00Twic
Sat, 31 OctTimes shown AEDT
LSF1 0vs LSF2 0 07:00The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Sun, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
WSF1 0vs WSF2 0 03:00Twic
View All Fixtures
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
France 0 0 0 0 0 0
New Zealand 0 0 0 0 0 0
Canada 0 0 0 0 0 0
Tonga 0 0 0 0 0 0
Japan 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Romania 0 0 0 0 0 0
Argentina 0 0 0 0 0 0
England 0 0 0 0 0 0
Georgia 0 0 0 0 0 0
Scotland 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Australia 0 0 0 0 0 0
USA 0 0 0 0 0 0
Italy 0 0 0 0 0 0
Ireland 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Fiji 0 0 0 0 0 0
Samoa 0 0 0 0 0 0
Namibia 0 0 0 0 0 0
South Africa 0 0 0 0 0 0
Wales 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
 

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