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Ball in good place after year of setbacks

Jake Ball arrives in Oita Airport to be greeted by rugby fans.

Ball in good place after year of setbacks

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Jake Ball admits his starring role at the Rugby World Cup in Japan has been made all the sweeter by the struggles he has had with injuries over the last year or so.

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But the Scarlets lock says he always believed he could make it to Japan despite those setbacks.

Ball, 28, has 38 Test caps for Wales and has started both tournament games so far against Georgia and Australia. He was named the official player of the match in the first of those ties.

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“I always try and set myself goals, but it was frustrating because the injuries were preventing me from achieving what I wanted to,” Ball said. “But I kept telling myself that if I could get a decent block of training in and some games then I knew I’d be in a decent place.

“To go for the best part of five years without an injury and be very durable and playing 80 minutes a game to then having that patch was very frustrating from a mental side as well.

“Hopefully I get a run like that again now.”

Ball has proved a key figure in Japan, especially since fellow second row Cory Hill was forced to return him after failing to recover from a leg fracture.

Hill’s replacement Bradley Davies is yet to play and Adam Beard is in the same boat as he continues to integrate back into training after having his appendix removed.

Ball has suffered bicep, shoulder, concussion and foot problems in recent times leaving him with the option of pursuing other routes away from rugby.

“I actually starting learning Forex trading. I joined a company six or seven months ago. I found that really good and it’s just something totally different and away from rugby,” he said.

“I’ve got my family as well. I’ve got three kids and they obviously keep me very busy as well. Amelia is four and a half, Charlotte is two and a half, and Jackson is nine months.

“They’ll be turning up the day before the Fiji game. That’ll be nice.”

Wales have two wins from two against Georgia and Australia in the bag ahead of facing Fiji in Oita on Wednesday. Ball admits Gatland’s camp is a happy one right now.

“Last weekend was a massive game for us and it was great to be on the right side of the scoreboard,” Ball said. “Now we’ve got two tough games again with a short turnaround after the Fiji game. If you look at the way they played against Georgia it’s going to be a tough one.

“It’s been great for me with a decent amount of game time.

“The competition for me was always to try and start. Coming into the World Cup camp I was always trying to get my hands on a starting jersey. The plan has never changed.

“Warren is very honest. He tells you exactly what he wants you to do and work on. He can give you a lot of confidence, is a great man-manager, and I have a massive amount of respect for the man. “When he says something you really listen. The biggest motivation when you’re injured is watching people play in that position – that drives you. There’s no one at the top level who isn’t competitive and doesn’t want to start – that is your ultimate goal.”

Ball has partnered Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones in the second row in Japan so far.

Jones broke the Welsh cap record by making his 130th Test appearance against Australia.

Ball said: “Alun Wyn seems to be the constant! Over the years everyone has revolved around him. “It’s a big challenge for me to push him and outdo some of his stats. Not that I did that against Australia! For me that’s a goal – to work harder than him. He’s unbelievable.

“I hold a lot of respect for Al and what he’s done in the game is brilliant. His leadership has been great over the last couple of years as well. I am really enjoying playing alongside him.”

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Ball in good place after year of setbacks
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Ball in good place after year of setbacks
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Ball in good place after year of setbacks
Ball in good place after year of setbacks
Ball in good place after year of setbacks
Ball in good place after year of setbacks
Ball in good place after year of setbacks
Ball in good place after year of setbacks
Ball in good place after year of setbacks
Ball in good place after year of setbacks
Ball in good place after year of setbacks
Ball in good place after year of setbacks
Ball in good place after year of setbacks
Ball in good place after year of setbacks
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