Scott Baldwin: Wales hooker almost quit rugby after foot injury
|Guinness Pro14: Munster v Ospreys|
|Venue: Musgrave Park, Cork Date: Fri, 14 Sept Kick-off: 19:35 BST|
|Coverage: Score updates on BBC Radio Wales and on the BBC Sport website|
Wales hooker Scott Baldwin says he almost quit rugby while struggling to recover from a serious foot injury.
The 30-year-old picked up the problem during a Wales Six Nations squad training session in January, 2018.
Before returning to action last month, the Ospreys front-rower almost retired because of his problems in overcoming thoughts his career was over.
"The lowest point was about six or eight weeks ago when I was thinking was this really was the end?" said Baldwin.
As Ospreys prepared for Friday's Pro14 game against Munster in Cork, Baldwin added: "The mental side has been the toughest.
"Physically, you get pushed to the edge whether it be pre-season, the last five minutes of games or a big scrum."
'Was that my last game?'
He expected to make solid progress between 12 or 16 weeks after the foot injury and was unprepared for setbacks along the way.
"There was a point when I was contemplating whether I was ever going to come back.
"I was told I would have dark days, but probably did not understand how dark they could get.
"There was always that element of doubt in my mind.
"Was that the last game I had played or the last training session I had done?
"I had to start looking at what would I do if rugby did go."
Baldwin 'Now in a good place'
He is one of 12 Wales players on a national dual contract under which sees the WRU pay 60% of his salary and his region the rest.
WRU chief executive Martyn Phillips has said such deals could be scrapped, but Baldwin says he has benefitted from his deal, crediting Ospreys and WRU medics for persuading him he could make a full recovery.
He returned for a pre-season match against Saracens in August before making two replacement appearances in Pro14 wins over Edinburgh and the Cheetahs.
"The driving factor to get back was I wanted my young son to watch me play rugby properly," said Baldwin.
"He came down to the game (against Cheetahs) last weekend which was a big moment for me.
"The biggest thing was I had my family around me and the support of the Ospreys and Welsh Rugby Union.
"Fortunately they were all right and I was wrong. I am in a good place now, mentally and physically."
Baldwin's World Cup target
The hooker admitted he was still concerned when he made his playing return against Saracens.
"With the first carry I felt a twinge in my foot and was a bit nervous. It was probably the first hit taking its toll, he said.
"The foot is uncomfortable at times, but something I have to adjust to."
Baldwin hopes he can add to his 34 Wales caps and go to the 2019 World Cup in Japan which starts next September.
"I would be lying if I said the World Cup was not on my mind," said Baldwin.
It has been a traumatic year for Baldwin who infamously was bitten on the hand by a lion 12 months ago when the Ospreys were on a safari trip in South Africa.
"I looked at the news the other day where a lion was climbing into a golf cart," said Baldwin.
"There were loads of people there and the lion was just licking them.
"I was just waiting for that moment when he is going to snap and bite!
"I have seen a lot of stuff over the last 12 months with regards to lions.
"I won't be going anywhere near them when we go to South Africa this season or next."