The Gloucester back-row forward will return to Test match action when Wales host Scotland in today’s NatWest 6 Nations opener.
It is only the fourth time this season he has played for club or country, yet in some ways, it is a minor miracle he is on a rugby pitch at all.
Moriarty’s Wales comeback has arrived eight months after he felt “something pop” in his back during the Lions’ opening tour game against New Zealand Barbarians.
“Two of the discs slipped in my back and jammed into the nerves of my legs, so the muscles on my legs stopped working,” he said. “So I’ve had to learn to use my leg muscles again, really, and now they are back and working properly so I can stand on one leg without falling over.
“I couldn’t run, I couldn’t stand on one leg, I couldn’t walk upstairs, I couldn’t walk downstairs, and 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 banister.”
Surgery was not an option either, with 23-year-old Moriarty adding: “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.”
Moriarty attempted a comeback for his club in November only to suffer another setback and be sidelined for two more months. “In the week following that game a tear in my disc was leaking fluid on to my knee again, so that was giving me a lot of problems in my leg. I had another injection into my disc area then, which has helped. It’s all sorted now,” he added.
“After that first game back, I actually was really, really worried and really upset. I played the game and I felt absolutely fine, and then the week following that in training it was obvious that something had happened again.
“There were two instances when I felt something pop in my back (against New Zealand Barbarians), and I thought it was hip-cracking, but it was obviously my disc popping out of place. I feel right, physically, now. I have made sure I am ready and tip-top..”
Even while Moriarty was continuing his long recovery process, he endured a difficult time on social media from critics bizarrely angered by his move from Gloucester to Welsh region the Dragons next season, a switch he has made in order to pursue his Test career because of Wales’ new senior player selection policy.
“There are a lot of people who say things on the internet who have never had any experience in rugby, in professional sports, but act like they’ve coached the All Blacks. That’s the way it is. That is the sad reality. That is the way social media works.”
Meanwhile Scotland skipper John Barclay doubts Wales will drift too far from their no-frills ‘Warren-ball’ game-plan despite calling in 10 of his Scarlets team-mates.
With a raft of big names out injured, Gatland has been forced to base his starting line-up largely on Wayne Pivac’s free-flowing Llanelli outfit.
Barclay plays his club rugby in west Wales and has found himself the centre of attention in recent days, with Dark Blues boss Gregor Townsend and the rest of his Scotland team-mates keen to mine him for information.
But the flanker is not sure his intel will be too much use to the visitors given the Scarlets’ flair players will be expected to toe a much more disciplined line when they swap the red of their club for that of Gatland’s side.
“They’re two different teams and Warren Gatland obviously has his way of playing, so I’d be surprised if they suddenly tore up his way of playing and adopted a totally different style,” said the captain.
Gatland raised hackles north of the border last year when he suggested Scotland’s poor track record outside of Edinburgh and Rome would count out many of their hopefuls for a place in his British and Irish Lions squad.
Natwest 6 Nations: Wales v Scotland
Principality Stadium, 2.15pm
Pascal Gauzere (France)
Wales 5/6, Scotland 6/5, Draw 14/1