Recently retired Bristol midfielder Will Hurrell has curiously chosen two matches that he lost as his career highlight. The 30-year-old centre sadly called it quits on April 10, three months after suffering a stroke following a whiplash head injury while playing for the Bears against Leicester at Welford Road.
He has been keeping busy since then, formulating ambitious plans for his future after rugby, but he took time during an extensive interview with RugbyPass that will be published on April 26 to reflect on a circuitous journey to the top-flight limelight that looked to have stalled when he left the Tigers academy in 2011 without making a lasting breakthrough.
What followed were Championship stints at London Welsh and Rotherham and some time at National League levels while chasing down a university qualification before the culmination of the 2015/16 season at Doncaster Knights changed everything.
The unfashionable Yorkshire club reached that season’s Championship final against Bristol and although they were eventually defeated in the two-legged decider on an aggregate 45-62 scoreline, Hurrell described that occasion as one of his career highlights. So, too, next game he togged out for – at Twickenham in the Premiership after he made the summer switch to promoted Bristol.
“Bloody hell,” he said when asked by RugbyPass what the standout memory from his career was. “I can think of a few but the one that always stands out for me is I had been in National 2 and worked my arse off to try to get into the Premiership and I got to play that Championship final, Doncaster against Bristol. That was unbelievable.
“So there is that game and then into the first game in the Premiership with Bristol which was my first ever Premiership start. We were in Twickenham, played Harlequins away, and I roomed with Gavin Henson.
“I was playing 13 outside him and it just all hit me that three years ago I was playing National 2, £100 quid a game, and now this is where I am. That for me was just like so emotional. It was just perfect. I mean we lost by two points but it was incredible. I will never forget it.”
Bristol were beaten 19-21 by Quins and despite the 2016/17 season ending in relegation, they bounced back under the new reign of Pat Lam and Hurrell went on to become a valued member of the Ashton Gate squad before his recent retirement.
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