OLI Goss, Yorkshire Carnegie’s former Doncaster Knights winger, has revealed how close he came to quitting the sport in the summer.
The German-born winger, who has only ever played his club rugby in the White Rose, had grown so disillusioned with injuries and the uncertainty over his future that he had begun to contemplate other career paths.
Studying to complete a masters degree at the time, the 26-year-old would not have been short of options either, as he came to the fork in the road.
“I had some pretty uncertain times towards the end of last season,” conceded Goss.
“I spent a lot of time away from the club, finishing my masters, and wondering what the future held. I’d stopped enjoying rugby. I was sitting in the stands every week.
“I got into rugby because of the enjoyment of it, but when you’re not playing and turning up at training and are limited in what you can do because of injury, that’s not much fun at all.
“Rugby is a career that is forever in flux; you’re one knock away from it being all over.
“I was in a position where I was contemplating starting somewhere new or if rugby wasn’t for me any more.
“If I’d have been injured and forced to retire then I would have accepted that that’s the way it is, that’s rugby.”
But the tide has turned for Goss.
He was awarded a new one-year deal for the 2014-15 season and he entered pre-season for that campaign free of injury for the first time in a long time.
With a strong pre-season under his belt, first under stand-in head coach Tommy McGee, and then the new top man, Gary Mercer, Goss has gone from strength to strength.
His selection on the wing for tomorrow’s first Yorkshire derby of the season against his former employers will be his fourth successive start.
To cement his status in the starting line-up, he is the only back to have crossed the whitewash in the opening three games.
“I’m enjoying my rugby again. I’m a lot more confident and playing more often so I’m happy,” said Goss.
“I feel as secure as you can be in a profession that hands out one-year deals.
“There was a lot of competition last year, and while that’s the same again this year, I think maybe I’m benefitting from a different set of eyes looking down on me (Mercer).
“There’s still a lot of depth, but I’ve forced my way in.”
Tomorrow’s reunion with a club he spent four years with merely enhances his new-found love for the game.
“To be honest, with the squad they had, it was quite an accomplishment to get relegated like they did two years ago,” added Goss, who used to share a house with Doncaster prop Richard List.
“But now they’re back and having looked at them they are very strong defensively, which is the Clive Griffiths way, and they have dangerous strike runners like Mat Clark, who we all know well up here from his time at Leeds.”
On Carnegie’s start to the season, Goss added: “We’re still bedding in and we feel like we haven’t put a complete performance in yet.
“We let Cornish Pirates back into it, we should have beaten Bristol but we didn’t up the tempo and maintain the momentum.
“Then at Moseley last week a comfortable performance in the first 60 minutes turned into a struggling one in the last 20.
“So while we’ve not put an 80-minute performance in yet, we’ve got a good platform to build on.”
Like Goss, Clark lines up against former employers as Doncaster seek to continue their impressive start to the season, which has not been derailed too greatly by last week’s first defeat of the season to promotion-favourites Worcester.
“We’re eager to prove that we only suffered a minor slip and we’re not the sort of team to just be pushed over and end up struggling week to week,” says Clark.
“There shouldn’t be any problems in terms of getting up for the derby game. It’s probably the biggest game of the season so far.
“It will be great to play against Yorkshire again. I still have quite a few friends there so I’m really looking forward to giving everything that we’ve got as a team.
“We’ve had a great start to the season and before things got underway we’d have taken two wins out of three if we were offered it.
“The hard work starts now – it’s a long season and there are plenty of games to play so we will keep taking things a game at a time.”
Doncaster’s director of rugby Clive Griffiths has made only two changes as he attempts to retain the continuity amongst a buoyant starting XV.
Carnegie have agreed a player exhange agreement with Premiership side Wasps with fly-half Glyn Hughes moving south and winger Jonah Holmes returning to Headingley Carnegie, where he spent last season on loan.