No pain no gain for Dragons' veteran prop Duncan Bell
PART George Foreman and part Paul McGrath, Duncan Bell is glad to be back for a brief hit of top-flight rugby.
It was around this time last week that the 39-year-old former Bath and England tighthead was mulling over an offer to come out of retirement to solve Newport Gwent Dragons' propping crisis.
Bell, a mortgage adviser, hadn't played a game of professional rugby for nearly two years but, like two-time world heavyweight boxing champion and grilling expert Foreman, he couldn't resist.
It was a decision that he was to curse when creaking at work yesterday morning but there were no regrets on Sunday afternoon.
Bell more than played his part in a thrilling 24-23 victory against RaboDirect Pro12 hopefuls Glasgow and after 45 minutes he got a rousing reception from the Rodney Parade faithful as he headed for a well-deserved sit down on the bench.
"Winning by a point and hearing the crowd chanting, singing and shouting gave me shivers down the spine at the end of the game," he said.
"It brought 18 years of professional rugby flooding back again. I don't want to sound like a punch-drunk boxer but it's nice to come out of retirement and get a win like that."
The ex-England man and on-loan Bristol tighthead Bruce Douglas received plenty of praise for their efforts against the Warriors but Kathryn Bell also deserves some of the credit for giving the Dragons a timely scrummaging boost.
"I got a call from Kingsley last Tuesday morning," said the *-times capped prop. "I've known him since Ebbw Vale in 1995 and then Pontypridd.
"I saw his number on the phone thinking that it would just be about a catch-up for a few beers but he asked me if I fancied played.
"I thought he was taking the Mickey but he explained the front row injuries and I said immediately that couldn't do it, that I'm too old and that I hadn't played for two year.
"After the call the Mrs asked me why I had said no and told me to just have a think about it.
"Then 'Kings' phoned back to make sure, as he does, and I agreed to a training session. I said if I look ridiculous or if I fall down and do a fetlock then he'd have to find someone else.
"But I came down and they were a really good bunch of lads and to be honest I got the buzz back.
"A couple of sessions later and I was starting at Rodney Parade; it was all a bit surreal."
Nothing is set in stone for Bell's time with the Dragons and the prop, like former injury-plagued Irish footballing great McGrath, doesn't have to play a full part in training so that he can get his body ready for a weekend challenge.
"It's just game by game and if the other guys come back then it'll be time," said Bell.
"I turned down a number of offers when I retired because I decided the training was too much and I couldn't physically keep up any more. I couldn't train Monday to Friday then play on the Sunday.
"I'm not full-time with the Dragons and I have a job as a mortgage adviser in Bristol. I am not expected to be at every session and that helps my body.
"It all fits quite nicely and it's great to help out."
Whether his back and knees agreed with those sentiments as he sat at his desk yesterday morning is another matter.