Wales lock Adam Beard's World Cup: A lucky escape, surgery and overeating
|Rugby World Cup: Wales v Fiji|
|Venue: Oita Stadium, Oita Date: Wednesday, 9 October Kick-off: 10:45 BST|
|Coverage: Full commentary on every Wales game across BBC Radio Wales and Radio Cymru, BBC Radio 5 Live and Radio 5 Live Sports Extra, plus text updates on the BBC Sport website and app.|
Most rugby players are desperate to get on the flight which takes them to the World Cup, but Wales lock Adam Beard is glad he missed his.
Beard was taken ill at Heathrow as Wales waited to board their flight to Japan, and within hours was undergoing keyhole surgery in Cardiff to remove an inflamed appendix.
Speaking 12 days after rejoining the squad in Japan, the 23-year-old Osprey reflected on his rehabilitation and narrowly avoiding a potential mid-air emergency at 35,000ft.
Beard has not played yet and may not be fit for unbeaten Wales' third Pool D match against Fiji on 9 October, but he is not feeling sorry for himself.
"It was lucky I didn't get on the plane," he said.
"That could have been dangerous. The doctors were all saying that. They were saying they would probably have had to get the plane to make an emergency landing."
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Beard had been struggling with stomach pains before Wales team doctor Geoff Davies advised him to go to hospital.
"We were travelling as a squad up to Heathrow and my stomach was getting more painful," added Beard.
"When we got to Heathrow the doctors assessed me and it was a bit painful around the appendix.
"Geoff felt I wasn't fit enough to fly and that I had to be seen back at the Heath hospital in Cardiff."
What followed was a 100-mile plus return journey culminating in Wales' red liveried 52-seater bus dropping the player at A&E at the University Hospital of Wales where he was met by another Welsh Rugby Union medic.
"It must have been a bit weird for the people who were inside looking out," added Beard.
"When you go into A&E there is normally a massive queue. I was lucky Geoff and our medical team have a bit of a pull and they got to see me a bit earlier.
"I had a scan first to see if there was anything going on, but because it got pretty bad when I was there, I went straight in and was operated on after about three or four hours.
"That's quick compared to what normally people would have to wait for. I was lucky in that sense."
It was a traumatic experience for Beard's parents Melanie and Paul - who took different views on the decision to rejoin the Wales squad in Japan - and his girlfriend Chelsea Lewis, who is a Wales netball international.
"My mother is a worrier anyway and she was saying, 'Don't fly, don't fly'," said Beard.
"But my old man was like, 'Come on it's only an appendix out - get out there!' It's good because I had both ends of the stick.
"I was speaking to my partner a few days later. We were laughing because we were thinking nothing of it at the start.
"She reminded me I was lucky not to get on that plane because it could have been dangerous. She said just take it step by step and realise how lucky you are."
After missing Wales' wins against Georgia and Australia, the 16-times capped lock looks most likely to return in the final pool game against Uruguay on 13 October.
Wales only had two fit specialist locks for the opening two victories in the form of captain Alun Wyn Jones and Jake Ball, with flanker Aaron Shingler acting as replacement cover.
Warren Gatland was prepared to wait for the Ospreys lock even though Cory Hill was sidelined, later to be replaced by Bradley Davies in the squad. Beard insists he never thought his World Cup dream was over.
"I was positive," said Beard.
"The surgery I had was keyhole and they didn't have to cut me open big. Geoff said it was a quick turnaround, two to three weeks and then get back into things."
Food for thought
Beard travelled to Japan just 10 days after his operation and says he was immediately punished by the Wales team fines committee for being late, wearing the wrong kit and losing weight.
Part of the recovery for the 6ft 8in lock has involved putting back the half stone he shed during his recuperation.
Now he's back into training... and eating.
"I was given a bit of a free rein when I got out here," said Beard.
"Normally I'd have four eggs and two toast with breakfast, now I'm having porridge and fruit too.
"I've been told to eat as much as I want as training is going to be hard to get back fit. I'm trying to double up on everything so I'm doing about 5,000 calories a day.
"The food has been amazing. The steaks are good and I have been smashing the sushi which has been unbelievable.
"It is tough to eat that much and at first my stomach was hurting, but it is getting easier and the weight is coming back on."
From a pain in the stomach to a belly ache, it's the unusual story of Adam Beard's World Cup so far.