King’s Lynn Stars fans’ favourite Rory Schlein on Friday spoke bravely of his comeback from a serious spine injury.
He was at the Adrian Flux Arena as part of the Night with Rory Schlein and Friends evening, giving an insight into recovering from a crash in Poland on May 24, 2015, which required a six-hour operation.
Side-effects from that injury include sciatia and nerve pain, and to aid his recovery the Aussie has booked a masseuse once a week for the next three months as well as other back-strengthening treatment and equipment.
The Darwin-born rider approached the night at the Champs Bar like he does life – with courage, good humour and never hiding his opinions under a bushel.
Schlein usually wears his heart on his sleeve and said of the longest time he has spent on the sidelines: “It’s an experience I’ll never forget. My family has been there every step of the way.”
Remarkably his recovery from injury seems to be going ahead as scheduled: “My rehab training has been going for two-and-a-half weeks,” he added.
“The first week was quite easy but this week has been really tough. Tuesday and Tuesday were really hard, yesterday especially so.”
Schlein movingly spoke of one compatriot who was not so lucky: friend and ex-Lynn rider Darcy Ward, who is currently confined to a wheelchair after also sustaining a spinal injury last season.
“He is the most talented guy I have seen on a speedway bike. I’ve ridden with Jason Crump and Tony Rickardsson and Leigh Adams, but I’ve seen Darcy do things on a bike I couldn’t believe.
The straight-talking rider said when he heard the news of Ward: “The night I got the call was just before I went on holiday and I refused to believe it. It shook me up.”
He did not want it to affect his family on holiday, but nevertheless the Australian told host for the evening and speedway journalist Gavin Caney: “I turned the phone off for three days.
“I broke down for the first time, which I hadn’t done for my injury, because it just brought all of it all back, because I know what could have happened (to me).
“I remember sitting with Darcy in hospital. Not once did he say he regrets anything.
“I would have put my home, my houses, everything to say he will be world champion one day, and I’d be prepared to argue that with anyone.”
An enjoyable night featured a quiz, a video message from his family, an appearance from returning Stars rider Lewis Rose, plus “Rory’s Rants” where he had to speak for one minute on random subjects such as speedway cost-cutting, the NHS and rubbish bin collection without swearing, which he did with success.
Anyone who has read a few of Schlein’s Twitter tirades – an example was shown on the night when he had protested at world champion Tai Woffinden’s exclusion from the 2015 BBC Sports Personality of the Year shortlist – knows that stifling a profanity or two was a feat akin to winning a Grand Prix round for the shoots-from-the-lip 31-year-old.