Henry Trinder’s long-awaited Aviva Premiership Rugby return was cruelly cut short last weekend and Mark Atkinson admits it was a difficult moment for the whole Gloucester Rugby squad.
After undergoing shoulder surgery back in September, Trinder lined up for his first start in five months when London Welsh came to Kingsholm on Saturday.
But it came to a premature end when the dynamic centre went down under an early challenge and injured his knee.
Trinder will now miss the rest of the season after going under the knife once more and while Atkinson, who replaced him on Saturday, is devastated by the news, it does give him the opportunity to prolong a flourishing centre partnership with Billy Meakes.
And the 24-year-old, a summer arrival from Bedford Blues who has already clocked 800 Aviva Premiership Rugby minutes this season, admits their friendship off the pitch is paying dividends on it.
“He has had the worst luck ever,” said Atkinson of Trinder’s latest setback.
“It’s not nice to have somebody come back and look so good in training, only for that to happen. Hopefully we will see him back as soon as possible.
“The whole squad rallied around him after the game and it showed the strength he has that he is still in this week, working hard.
“However brief it was, it was exciting to see him back, but it has been nice playing alongside Billy. Everyone has got to take their opportunities and I have been enjoying it.
“We live quite close to each other and see quite a lot of one another and it does make a difference in that respect – it’s easier to bond with each other.
“I never expected to play this much and I have to be grateful for the opportunity. You target a number of games and by Christmas it was important to reset some goals. At the moment I’m really enjoying it.”
Atkinson and Meakes will line up together again when the Cherry & Whites visit Wasps this weekend, looking to be the first side to topple Dai Young’s team at the Ricoh Arena in Aviva Premiership Rugby.
They have an extra weapon for the clash after Jonny May returned from international duty for the weekend to line up on the right wing.
And Atkinson is eager to ensure Gloucester capitalise on May’s presence, before he is whisked back into the England camp next week.
He added: “I think we have just got to be selfish and say if we have got him back for one week then we have got one of the best wingers in the country back in the team.
“He is one of those players that people underestimate when watching him. Those sort of players are the special ones and he can make something from nothing. He is a special player to have on the pitch.”
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