Nearly three years after being involved in a serious car accident that left him in a coma for three weeks, former Cornish Pirates player James Tincknell believes he's back to his best and he's determined to prove his doubters wrong.
The wing/centre, 25, impressed London Welsh head coach Justin Burnell during a trial period last month after not being offered a contract by the Pirates – starting twice against Edinburgh Acdemical in their British & Irish Cup double-header.
He's now set his sights on forcing his way into Burnell's thinking for the Championship run in, and he'll hope to further press his claims against Pontypridd at the Kassam Stadium on Sunday (kick-off 3pm) in the cup.
"I know I'm back, it's just a case of proving to everyone that I am back and to have confidence in me,” said Tincknell.
"When I was at Doncaster and we got relegated people were thinking 'maybe he's not quite back' so it's about proving everyone wrong.
"These last two years I've just been very focused on getting back playing and getting back to my best.
"It's gone really well [joining London Welsh]; they're a good bunch of boys and the coaching staff are really good, so I've slotted in pretty well.
"Everyone's really positive and they're always looking to improve and push towards high standards - it's a good environment. I've got my head round everyone's names now and I'm just getting stuck in and working hard.”
That Tincknell is able to contemplate such rugby goals is something approaching a minor miracle. In February 2011 he was involved in a car accident that left him with bleeding on the brain, a punctured lung, a fractured rib and a laceration to his arm.
He was in a coma for three weeks and spent a further five weeks in hospital before being released, but he considers himself fortunate.
"Really, I came out of it pretty unscathed, because I had no broken bones or long term injuries. I was really lucky,” he said. It did, however, set back his rugby career.
"I lost a lot of weight and it affected my strength, speed and power, and just my general fitness. It's taken me a little while to get my confidence back and to physically get back.
"I lost all my baselines; if you don't go to the gym for a while you've always got that baseline that you can fall back on so you don't drop down too far, but I got pulled right back to the bone. The same with my fitness, I lost my baseline with my fitness.
"It's been tough to come back. It's taken a lot of hard work and graft, but now it's about pushing on and showing everyone that I'm back to full fitness.”
At the time of the accident Tincknell was a rising star at Leeds Carnegie. After a further six weeks recuperating he was straight back into pre-season and was sent out on loan to his old club Wharfdale to get game time, before spending last season at Doncaster Knights on loan.
That would end in disappointment, however, with Doncaster relegated from the Championship.
"It was a tough season for Doncaster and everyone involved - it's always tough when you're not winning games. I'm just glad I've been able to work my way into a good team at Welsh,” said Tincknell.
After two years at Leeds he began this season on trial at Cornish Pirates and was a tryscorer in their round one win over Bristol, only to be released with the club unable to extend his short-term contract. Within days he was at London Welsh on trial.
"I enjoyed myself in Penzance and I did well, but because I'd come late they weren't able to keep me on. It was tough coming to Welsh on trial, but that's what I needed to do, to get that opportunity – to push for a place in the league side is now my main focus,” he added.