JUST after midday the Wales team bus will go through the streets of Cardiff, park inside Principality Stadium and the players will climb a set of stairs to head to their changing room for the Six Nations opener.

Given that a few months ago couldn’t even walk up stairs unaided, heading to the cubicle where the red 8 jersey is hanging will be an emotional moment for Ross Moriarty.

The powerful back row forward was fearing for his rugby future after suffering a frightening back injury in the first game of the British and Irish Lions tour in New Zealand.

Moriarty, who will swap Gloucester for the Dragons next season, heard something pop but stayed on the pitch for the full 80 minutes against the New Zealand Provincial Barbarians in Whangerei.

It turned out that two discs had slipped in his back and jammed into the nerves of his legs so that the muscles stopped working.

“I couldn’t run, I couldn’t stand on one leg, I couldn’t walk upstairs, couldn’t walk downstairs,” said Moriarty.

“That’s actually one of the things I had to do after training to see how it was coming on was to be able to walk upstairs without using the bannister. It was quite a tough time.

“Both the nerves jammed, so the muscles in the front and the back would completely switched off.

“Sometimes I’d stand up and the nerve would get jammed by the disc and I’d fall over.

“No surgeon would go in there because they said it was too close to the nerve and if they damaged it that would basically be me done. It was a lot more serious than I expected.

“I went to see four different surgeons and none of them would think of it. It was tough to hear.

“Sometimes I’d be flying on rehab. In the early stages things would be going well and then I came back and played and thought I’d be fine, then I couldn’t train again and run again, so it was a tough time”

After painful rehab Moriarty made his comeback against Leicester at Welford Road in November only to suffer another setback.

He fought back to feature for the Cherry and Whites in the European Challenge Cup last month to show Warren Gatland that he was fit enough for a place in Wales’ Six Nations squad.

In the absence of the injured Taulupe Faletau, he has been thrown into the back row for the opener against Scotland to provide big hits and strong carries.

“I am just really looking forward to it,” said Moriarty. “I haven’t played too much rugby this season, but I have confidence in what the conditioners have been doing with me. I wouldn’t be starting this game if I wasn’t right.

“I have been pushing myself very hard with the fitness and gym work I have been doing. I have made sure I am ready and tip-top – I know that if I wasn’t right I wouldn’t get picked.

“Physicality for me is bread and butter. If I don’t have that right then I am not doing what I should be doing. Every game I try to replicate what I’ve done in the past.

“Scotland have a physical pack and the back row are very good at the breakdown area. I am looking forward to that physical battle.

“I will be relieved to walk off the pitch in one piece, if that happens I am not sure, but I’ll walk onto the pitch as if it’s my last international because that’s the way I feel with every international – you never know when it will be. That is my mindset.”