Injury-free McAtee gets up to speed with 80 minutes for Albion
Rhodri McAtee is hoping his Plymouth Albion career can now finally take off after an injury-hit start.
The Welshman moved to Brickfields in the summer after eight seasons with the Cornish Pirates. But, after just two matches at Albion, McAtee picked up a groin injury.
He tried to play on with it but ended up making it worse and was ruled out for a month. But he returned to Championship action last Friday as Albion beat London Scottish 24-20 to record their first win since the end of September.
McAtee played the full 80 minutes of the game. It was only his third start for Albion, and his first since the second match of the season.
"It was nice to be back on the pitch," he said. "I have missed playing for the last seven weeks or so. It was definitely good to be back, although I was a bit rusty. I have never really had a massive problem with injuries, but I had quite a bad one as I ruptured a muscle in my leg.
"I got through the game on Friday. It ached a little bit but it was not sore and I could have played another game straight after if I'd have wanted to."
McAtee had a knee problem as well early in the season but he said it was all related to his groin injury. He said: "It was not really the knee. It was the groin and it was tight.
"I came back and played the Bedford game and it was still a bit too tight and I just ruptured the thing. But it is gone now."
He added: "It has been a frustrating start to my Albion career. It is definitely not the start I wanted. Hopefully, I can do what the club need me to do and help the team stay where they are and even climb the table some more."
After five successive losses in all competitions, McAtee said it was important Albion beat Scottish. They did have to withstand a second-half fight back by the Exiles, who had been 21-3 down at half-time.
"It was definitely very good to be on a winning side," he said. "But I made it a bit hard for the team at times. I think it was a case of a bit of inexperience at full-back.
"I think I need to go away and watch a couple of games because there were a couple of times when I should have just kicked and that would have probably made it a lot easier for our team. But I thought the team played really well.
"I thought we defended tremendously, especially in that dying five or ten minutes when Scottish needed that try. They did not even come near one.
"It was a funny game as we did not really play badly. Myself, I made a couple of bad decisions and it meant they camped in our half and it is easier to play rugby in your opponents' half than in your own half. But I thought we made it extremely hard for them to score.
"We definitely earned the win. But, if I had made a couple more right decisions, it would probably have been a more comfortable game. I will hold my hand up and take the heat for some of them. Hopefully, I will learn from them."
Full-back was the third position McAtee has played for Albion in only five games. He had started two games on the wing and come on as a replacement twice at scrum-half. "I will happily play anywhere," he said. "I have played full-back quite a few times over the years, but I just need to get a bit better at it."
Albion now have a week off before they play Bristol at home. McAtee said it is frustrating not having a fixture this weekend after returning to winning ways last Friday.
"It is, but it is easy for me to say as I have been out injured," he said. "Some of the boys have been playing week in, week out and they have definitely earned the rest."