FIT-AGAIN forward Matt Cox is delighted to have regained his “competitive edge” after being struck down by a rare blood condition this summer.

Cox revealed his absence from action was down to a “haemorrhage” which resulted in a loss of red blood cells and a lengthy recovery process.

The 31-year-old said he was told by his doctor that he was “one in 20,000” to suffer the condition after undergoing “a couple of procedures”.

“We had a bit of time off (after last season) and I had a haemorrhage so there was a bit of blood loss,” Cox said. “It wasn’t ideal.”

Cox admitted it was a “personal thing” when quizzed on the nature of the illness but added: “I just had a couple of procedures. They were scheduled anyway but I was unlucky.

“The doctor said I was one in 20,000.

“You can be fine in a couple of weeks and be back into normal life but when you have got Johan (Pretorius, head of performance) flogging you, you get a bit out of breath quicker than normal.”

Red blood cells are key to boosting the performances of athletes as they carry oxygen to the body’s muscles.

Cox said he was forced to miss training sessions initially but thanks to club’s physios and medics he was helped back to full fitness.

“At the start it was hard as you need your oxygen and red blood cells,” Cox said.

“Now you feel super fit as your body has been used to working without.

“Your recovery is a lot faster so I feel pretty good but there is no fitness like match fitness.

“You could be running marathons but when you get into a rugby game with all the physicality you will soon be blowing.

“Your lungs are like crisp packets.

“They demand such fitness levels that you need to be fully fit. It takes a long time for red blood cells to regenerate.

“Your heart rate is sky high until you get that level. Everything is good now.”

Cox made his first appearance of the season in Warriors’ European Challenge Cup clash with Enisei-STM in Russia last week.

It released months of frustration for the ex-Gloucester man who has struggled to watch rugby during his time on the sidelines.

“I have started to be a bit itchy and been hard work to live with,” Cox said.

“During that extended pre-season my mindset was different as I was focusing on getting in shape whereas now I have got a competitive edge.

“I hate watching rugby.

“When I am on the bench I am constantly fidgeting.

“When the game is on I have to do laps of the pitch just to keep moving so I am not the best spectator.”

Redditch-born Cox is determined to break into Warriors’ Premiership side but acknowledges the strong competition for places at the club.

“We run two sides against each other in training and team two is now getting older and more experienced so they are starting to catch up,” Cox added.

“Training is becoming more competitive. There is a little bit more edge which picks the session up.

“You want to be giving Solly (Alan Solomons, director of rugby) selection headaches by showing what you can do.”