Former England flanker Tom Wood suffered a huge health scare last month after it was discovered he had a clot on the lung.
His club Northampton Saints revealed on Monday that the 33-year-old was diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism in July.
It is understood Wood woke up in the night in considerable pain last month with the problem, and ended up in hospital.
This blocking of a blood vessel in the lung can prove fatal if not caught quickly, but thankfully the 50-cap back-rower has now recovered having been treated promptly at Northampton General Hospital.
And, remarkably, Saints doctors believe while Wood will miss the resumption of the Premiership next weekend he could even play this season.
Confirming the scary incident involving their former captain Northampton said on Monday that Wood had been cleared to return to non-contact training already.
‘We’re naturally disappointed that Woody will not be available for when things kick off again on the 16 August,’ said Saints director of rugby, Chris Boyd.
‘But he’s an excellent professional and we know he’ll rehab diligently to hopefully be back in contention before the end of the current season.’ There was intrigue at Franklin’s Gardens when the club released stalwart flanker Jamie Gibson at the end of June, only to re-sign him on a short-term deal three weeks later.
But now the reason for this has become clear. At the time they announced Gibson would stay until the end of the disrupted season Saints said Wood would be out for a minimum of three months due to injury – but did not divulge the full details of his issue.
Wood will now be managed carefully back to fitness, but optimists at the club think he could still play some part before the 2019-20 season ends in October.
The shock incident came out of the blue for Wood who is still one of the fittest players in the league into his mid-30s.
The 6ft 5in, 17st flanker who last played for England in 2017, spent lockdown re-setting his body after a gruelling 14-year professional career that has seen him play at two World Cups, and more than 200 times for Saints.
Hands-on Wood even built himself bar-bells out of tree stumps so he could train at home when rugby was shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Off the field the forward lives an active lifestyle and enjoys outdoor pursuits like fishing, shooting, archery, and sells homemade woodwork.
Wood believed he was in the shape of his life during lockdown, and still hopes to keep playing despite this frightening incident.
Elsewhere Harlequins are desperate to provide the perfect send-off for another veteran England flanker – Chris Robshaw.
The former England captain, 34, is leaving The Stoop for the USA when this season finishes.
And Alex Dombrandt, who idolised Robshaw as a kid, has urged seventh-placed Quins to wave the back-rower off with a trophy.
‘He has always been desperate to win and I think as a club it has been a few years since we last won silverware so everyone is doing everything in their power to getting back to winning trophies,’ said the 23-year-old No 8.
‘I look back to when I was growing up – he was a player that I idolised and watched on TV. Then fast forward to now and I am rubbing shoulders with him, training with him and sat in the changing room next to him.
‘I just try to watch how he goes about his daily business and pick things up – his work ethic is second to none.
‘He is a legend of the game and hopefully we can give him a send-off he will remember going into his next chapter.
‘We have the belief that we can win the league. We need to be more consistent in our performances and know when we are good, we are really good.
‘So if we start putting in big performances there is no reason why we can’t start to compete with the top dogs.’ Quins confirmed on MMMonday that Eddie Jones’ England ‘apprentice’ Gabriel Ibitoye had left for French club Agen, after the Londoners agreed a hefty compensation fee.
As Sportsmail revealed last week the 22-year-old winger, who has trained with the national team, has joined Agen for two years after failing to agree a pay-cut at Quins.