Butler’s on-field activities have been restricted after breaking his thumb in October and then sustaining a spinal concussion that initially appeared to be a career threatening injury.
The 23-year-old back row would prefer to forget the past five months, and particularly one day at the end of January when he sustained the latter injury that led to the abandonment of Shannon’s Ulster Bank League game with Blackrock College.
Tomorrow, he hopes to re-launch a challenge to make a back row jersey his own — in a very cluttered environment — and despite the injury sustained in Dublin, he believes his exposure to AIL rugby was essential in helping him get up to speed for the higher demands of provincial rugby.
“It was brilliant to have got time to play for the club,” he said. “The AIL is a very competitive league and I still think people talk down on it and say it is not as competitive as it was, but it is a great stepping stone to get back into provincial teams.
“On a personal note it has been the most frustrating year of my life in rugby because I had never been injured before this season. I kept getting knock after knock and so I am absolutely buzzing to play. It’s a great honour to play for your province and I’m looking forward just to getting back playing.”
Were there any dark days during rehab?
“Yeah, you have those days when you have a long term injury. You’re out for a while and you’re mooching around the place but you talk to the lads and they give you a helping hand, put the hand on the shoulder and get you through it. In fairness, the whole set up here is brilliant in helping people get through long term injuries.”
Although Butler’s best position would appear to be number eight, he’s happy to just be selected.
“I’ll take whatever position I could manage to get in. I don’t mind. I’m just looking to play, to get involved as much as I can and this week is a stepping stone to that. It’s a massive game because the lads have gone very well when I was out injured; it’s a huge task but I think I’m up for the challenge.”
Although Butler backs Munster to win, he certainly believes Treviso will provide a strong challenge.
“We can’t look past this to Leinster or Toulon (in a potential Heineken Cup semi-final), our main focus has to be Treviso. We played them early in the season and lost so we know it’s going to be another huge challenge.
“They’re very strong up front. I think they have the highest turnover in scrums throughout the competition so that’s the place they will probably target. However, we’ll knuckle down and in any event we have done well in the scrums so far, I think we’ll be fine.”