Marland Yarde is using one of the world’s top sprint coaches to relaunch his England rugby career after overcoming an horrendous knee injury that saw him undergo three operations to make it back onto the pitch for Sale Sharks.
Yarde was injured against Newcastle in October 2018 with the severity of the injury raising the prospect of his 13 cap England career could be over but the former Harlequins wing battled back to play again one day short of 12 months after the injury to prove the doubters wrong. Remarkably, the 27-year-old is showing the power and pace that has always marked him out as a special try scoring talent.
Crucial to his fightback has been the influence of renowned sprint coach Jonas Dodoo, who is best known for guiding long jumper Greg Rutherford to Olympic glory and helping Chijindu Ujah run the 100m in 9.96ses to become one of the fastest British runners of all-time. Thanks to Dodoo’s expertise, Yard believes he now faster than ever and told RugbyPass: “I have been doing a lot of speed work at Loughborough with Jonas Dodoo, who is one of the best and feel I am faster than before my injury. He has done a great job with me.
“He has changed a couple of things in my technique and my speed is completely back , my footwork is there and my work around my knee is designed to keep my strength based stuff high and it means I don’t go onto the field worried about getting injured. I have been pushing the boundaries and things have fallen into place.”
Yarde works with Dodoo to supplement his training regime at Sale where the club has assembled an international laden squad that currently stands in third place in the Premiership and will be boosted by the debut of Lood de Jager, the Springbok World Cup winning lock in the next two weeks. Yarde has forced his way into the team despite having to battle against fellow test wins Denny Solomona, Chris Ashton and Byron McGuigan to highlight the depth of talent at the club.
The endless months of rehabilitation work carried out in Britain and under the specialist advice of American based Bill Knowles, a knee injury expert, forced Yarde to reassess not only his career but his attitude to the sport he loves. Yarde explained: “ During the rehab work I realised that when I really apply myself that I am a lot stronger than I realised. There were a lot of dark times and concerns about coming back but I convinced myself I was going to achieve that goal. That was the hardest bit.
“When you do come back and things don’t immediately click there are the doubts about can you play at that level again and I had to break through that barrier. It was more of a battle with myself to be honest and I deleted Twitter and focussed solely on what I could control. One thing I learnt was to stay mentally strong and to keep pushing through.
“I took a lot of things away with me after working with Bill Knowles in terms of how to look after my knee going forward and I learnt a lot in terms of warm ups. We live in a world where a lot of people doubt you and I have tried to quieten the white noise, do the unseen work and find my form. I know when I am playing at my best I am right up there. “
Yarde last played for England in their 35-25 win over Argentina in Sante Fe in 2017 and head coach Eddie Jones has been keeping an eye on the Sale wing’s progress. “I would be lying if I said I didn’t want to play for England again and that is the ultimate goal: “ added Yarde.” I had a severe injury which put me out of the squad for the last year and a half and I need to be playing well for Sale.
“It was a bit of a difficult start because I hadn’t played for a year but I have put the work in off the field and away from the club and am getting back to my best form. I just want to show what I am about and that has been my focus in the last four of five games for Sale. We are third in the table and have shown how good we can play when we do get things right and while the defeat at Saracens was disappointing they adapted better in the conditions.
“The top of the table is really tight and it’s important we get the home wins and we know that Leicester will be confident after their win over Wasps and we will have to be on top form to get the result.”