Wallabies' winger Drew Mitchell is resigned to missing the Waratahs opening Super Rugby clash with Queensland and admits he is enduring the toughest spell of his career.
With fellow flyer Lachie Turner already sidelined for several months with a hamstring injury and Atieli Pakalani battling a shoulder problem, the Waratahs wing resources are being stretched before the season proper starts.
Proven matchwinner Mitchell missed much of last season's Super tournament with an ankle injury, but won his battle against the clock to make the World Cup.
He made one substitute appearance against Ireland and in two starts scored one try against the United States and two against Russia before suffering a tournament-ending ankle injury.
Mitchell had a bone spur removed in early December, but a torn tendon has delayed his comeback and he rates himself doubtful at best for the February 25 clash with the Reds at ANZ Stadium.
"I guess I know my body pretty well and I'm at the point now I'm resigned to the fact I won't be playing in that game," Mitchell said while waiting for the results of his latest scan.
Mitchell, 27, said it had been tough over the last nine months training as an individual in a team sport and motivation had sometimes been an issue.
"It is tough, but I'm certainly not the first guy to be tested in this way," Mitchell said.
"But certainly when you feel like you're going to be back at a certain point and you have another setback and you feel like you're going to be back from that and then you have another, it tests you and throws you around a bit.
"You know there's always selection things that you worry about and you get a bit of anxiety about.
"But I guess with the injury you are getting anxiety about when you are going to be back, if you are going to be back.
"When you get back, are you going to be back to where you were prior to that? Also, when you get back, how are selections going to go, so that comes into it as well.
"So definitely it would be the toughest thing I've had to go through with my career."
NSW could possibly add former Waratah and recent Brumbies captain and No.8 Stephen Hoiles to their roster sometime during the Super campaign.
Hoiles, who parted company with the Brumbies after last season, has been training with NSW.
He is recovering from an achilles injury and has expressed a desire to play Super Rugby this year.
"The reason we have him there is definitely that's a possibility," Foley said.
"There would need to be some injuries and let's hope that doesn't happen but there is a possibility."
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