Rhys Priestland 'devastated' by fresh injury set-back
Rhys Priestland has described the recurrence of his Achilles injury as a "devastating blow" and insisted he did not rush his comeback.
The Scarlets fly-half had returned sooner than expected after rupturing his Achilles tendon in December.
But the injury flared up on Friday as he prepared to make his first start and he will now miss Wales' summer tour.
"I thought everything was fine with my Achilles but it's a part of rugby," said the 26-year old.
"I was pretty low over the weekend and I'm still coming to terms with it. It's a shame because I felt really good and my body has been really good but I'm sure this extra break will make things better in the long term."
Rhys Priestland Wales and Scarlets fly-half
“To be so close to actually making it on the field and hitting the target I had set myself was a pretty devastating blow”
A worst-case scenario of nine months out was the prognosis after Priestland had surgery on his injured heel. His Achilles gave way in a Heineken Cup match against Exeter Chiefs, forcing him out of Wales' Six Nations defence.
The injury was the culmination of a torrid few weeks for Priestland after his admission of seeking the help of a sports psychologist following criticism of his form during Wales' autumn series.
Despite suggestions his season was over, Priestland set himself a target of returning for the final games of Scarlets' season. He achieved that goal by making two appearances as a replacement as his side secured their place in the Pro12 play-offs, and was then set to start against Ulster in the semi-finals.
But during the final stages of the side's pre-match preparations at Ravenhill on Friday, he felt tension in his tendon and was forced to pull out.
"It literally happened at the end of the warm-up with five minutes to go until kick-off," he said.
"To be so close to actually making it on the field and hitting the target I had set myself was a pretty devastating blow."
Priestland, who has 22 caps, had been selected in Wales' 32-man training squad for the two-Test tour of Japan in June, but his place has been taken by 19-year-old uncapped Cardiff Blues fly-half Rhys Patchell.
The one positive for Priestland, though, is the prospect of a rare summer off to recover and prepare properly for pre-season training with Scarlets.
"There's no real rush to come back for anything so I'll just make sure everything is right and ready to go for the start of next season," he said.
"I'm sure everything will be fine way before that. It's a bit of a shame because I felt really good and my body has been really good but I'm sure this extra break will make things better in the long term."