Welsh rugby player Scott Baldwin, who feared his career was over after being bitten by a lion in South Africa, has revealed the extent of the injuries he suffered.
Baldwin, 29, who plays for club team Ospreys and has been capped by Wales more than 30 times, suffered the bite while attempting to stroke the animal before a game on tour in South Africa in September. The incident was caught on camera by a teammate.
His injuries reportedly left him fearing he would lose his hand, and he has now revealed the grisly extent of the bite and the operations he required afterwards.
“When you see the video it looks very quick, but for me it felt like a lifetime, it felt as though I was staring into its [the lion’s] soul,” he said, the Mirror reported.
“They told me I could lose my hand, I had to have four operations and I missed three matches with the Ospreys. And it was all self-inflicted.”
Baldwin returned to action for the Ospreys at the weekend, and is thankful the incident didn’t end his career.
“I think it only hit me how lucky I was when I was in bed the other night. When someone says you can lose your hand, instantly your career is gone,” he said.
Baldwin apologized to his teammates and fans after the incident, but at the time received little sympathy from coach Steve Tandy, who said that “in fairness it was nothing to do with the lion.”
“He did bite Scott but when you put your hand in a fence where there is a lion, then you will get bitten. It was pretty stupid on Scott’s behalf and he is pretty lucky… I don’t know what sort of wildlife show Scott has been watching where you can pat a lion on the head as if it’s a kitten.”
The Ospreys went down to a 36-34 defeat against English European champions Saracens on Saturday, with hooker Baldwin coming on as a replacement.