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Peel is full of zest again! RUGBY: DWAYNE ON FUTURE.

Byline: By PAUL JONES

DWAYNE PEEL has woken from his rugby nightmare and intends to celebrate at football's Theatre of Dreams.

The Wales scrum-half has been plagued by a shoulder injury since the start of the year and only a few weeks ago feared he'd miss the first three to four months of the season.

But after successful keyhole surgery, Peel (left) has accelerated his recovery and is now on course for a remarkable comeback at the start of the campaign.

That will be in the blue of Sale, rather than the colours of the Llanelli Scarlets, but his move to Manchester at the end of last season will allow him to become a follower of the other Reds.

The 26-year-old Lions No.9 had his part in the Six Nations Grand Slam brutally undermined by his shoulder problems and also missed the summer tour to South Africa.

He admits: "To be honest, the past seven months - since I first felt the shoulder in January - have been nothing short of a nightmare.

"To begin with I fought the problem and tried to play through it. However, it was clear that I couldn't start the Six Nations and even when I did play, it wasn't quite right.

"I had to make the decision to have an operation, write off a couple of months, and then set my stall out to be fit for the start of the new season.

"Everything seems to be going OK and having moved into my new house, I feel even more comfortable that I'm on track."

After a decade at Stradey Park, Peel decided midway through last season that the time was right for a move to English rugby.

He may have 61 caps to his name, and was first choice for the Lions in New Zealand three years ago, but he was unable to prevent his region's drastic dip in form over the past 12 months.

Nor was he able to hold off the challenge of the Ospreys' Mike Phillips, who established himself as first-choice scrum-half under Warren Gatland last season.

But there are plenty of admirers of Peel who believe that his honed skills as a distributor for the Welsh back line will soon enable him to elbow aside the more physical attributes of his rival.

For the player himself, a switch from rugby-mad Llanelli to a city where Ryan Giggs is the Welsh idol and Cristiano Ronaldo the local obsession, may provide a fresh impetus.

He adds: "Personally, it was the biggest decision of my life to come up here and to leave all that I knew.

"I had been at Stradey since I was 15 and I had always supported Llanelli as a kid.

So to break off from that and come to England was not something that I decided upon overnight.

"However, once I was here I realised that it was nice to be out of the goldfish bowl where everyone knows you and everyone talks to you about what is going wrong at your region or with Wales.

"Don't get me wrong, the people were interested in what was happening and they really cared. But sometimes it is just nice to be out of the limelight and since I have come to Sale I have seen the other side.

"Up here it is all about Manchester United and Man City and as rugby players we don't experience the same kind of exposure. It enables you to concentrate your mind and just get on with things.

"I'm not a football fanatic in any way, but I do follow the game and I have obviously become interested in what is going on up here with Ronaldo and some of the proposed transfers.

"For now, I have to concentrate on getting myself up and running again - but believe me, whenever I can I will be going to Old Trafford and maybe Liverpool to share in the experience of Premier League or European football."

Before then, Peel will join the rest of his Sharks team-mates in France for a preseason training camp before returning home to prepare for the Guinness Premiership kick-off in September.

"That's the aim and at the moment I am on target. I am just keeping my fingers crossed that my nightmare has come to an end."
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jul 13, 2008
Words:716
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