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Cardiff (United Kingdom) (AFP) - Wales prop Samson Lee has returned from a debilitating achilles injury the strongest and heaviest he has ever been, although his comeback has excluded any ferreting.
The Welsh were hit by a crushing double injury nightmare just before the World Cup when Leigh Halfpenny and Rhys Webb were ruled out by injuries sustained in the final warm-up game against Italy.
There were fears tighthead prop Lee and full-back Liam Williams might also fail to make the cut.
But the duo have both been named in Warren Gatland's side to face Uruguay at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium on Sunday. Lee suffered a ruptured achilles tendon in March.
"I'm glad to get back, after all the hard work I've been doing with the physios," said Lee.
"There's always been a doubt (of not making it), it's been a lot of hard work, but the physios have been unbelievable."
During his rehabilitation, the Scarlets prop admitted that he had done a lot of weights.
"I've got stronger. I don't think you can get a much bigger neck!" he joked.
"I'm the heaviest I've ever been, I'm stronger than I've ever been."
Lee also revealed that he had to give up his hobby of ferreting.
"My goal was first to get back playing, then get back into ferreting after that," said Lee, who hails from a large Llanelli-based family and boasts 61 first cousins.
"If I'm back playing, then I can get out in the fields and catch a few rabbits. The last thing I want is to slip in the field and rupture my achilles again, I'm trying to keep off it. No rabbits for me!"
Lee admitted that packing down for the first time since his return from injury had been a nerve-rackign experience.
"I was very nervous getting back into it, but with more repetitions I got more confidence," the 22-year-old said.
Gatland had absolutely no doubt his prop was ready for action.
"Absolutely. He's been training for the last two or three weeks," the Kiwi coach said.
"We've just not rushed him and there's been a lot of conditioning work.
"We've listened to medics and haven't pushed him. He's been eased back into it and there's no doubt he'll struggle from lack of rugby but in terms of work done and fitness, he hasn't felt pain in his achilles for number of weeks.
"He's confident he's fit and ready to go and available for selection."
Wales forwards coach Robin McBryde was full of praise for the physiotherapists who have overseen Lee's rapid return to action.
"Samson has built up a very strong relationship with (physio) Mark Davies, worryingly so for his wife!
"But Samson has amazed them in terms of his application and professionalism," McBryde said.
"It has been a step-by-step progression and he has passed every test with flying colours. The next step for Samson is to play. I am really looking forward to seeing him play tomorrow."
McBryde added: "His strength is his scrum, but there is more to Samson's game than that. He's comfortable with the ball in hand. However, we are looking to set the bar at the set piece."