MARCO Mama revealed how he underwent a series of operations to save his right leg and potentially his life in a traumatic ordeal.

The forward is set to return to Gallagher Premiership action when Worcester Warriors visit Saracens today (3pm) – and he insisted: “There is nothing that is going to hold me back.”

But eight months ago, Mama was rushed into theatre for surgery after what he initially thought was a run-of-the-mill dead leg turned out to be a life-threatening condition.

Mama played the full 80 minutes of Warriors’ victory over Gloucester in late April but just a few hours later he could not walk and was in unbearable pain.

“I finished the game and thought I had got a typical dead leg but it was getting more and more painful,” Mama said.

“I couldn’t walk on it too well and when I tried to get into my car I couldn’t bend my leg to press the escalator.

“I was in a lot of pain but luckily my parents were around so I got them to drive my car back.

“I then jumped into my dad’s car and just lay there. But by the time I got home which was 45 minutes away I was almost crying because it was so painful.”

Mama then contacted the club’s medics who told him to take painkillers before Warriors doctor Karen Jones whisked him to John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford later that night.

At that stage there were fears Mama had come down with compartment syndrome, a condition that causes bleeding in the muscles.

And after five hours of tests those suspicions were proved correct.

“When I finally saw the plastic surgeon they put a needle into my leg that measures the pressure,” Mama said.

“It was 13 on my good side which is a usual amount of pressure on your leg.

“The doctor then turned to me and said ‘Anything above 30 and it is compartment syndrome so we might have to have some sort of intervention’.

“They put the needle in my right leg and it was 94.

“I saw the doctor’s face drop and everyone else looking at each other.

“I was thinking ‘I don’t think this is very good’.

“He said ‘We are going to surgery, but I was said ‘Hold on, I am a professional rugby player, I have got a career’.

“But he said I couldn’t give a **** about your career. It’s important that we save your leg and your life.

“It was that serious.”

Mama is no stranger to a hospital bed having undergone surgery to repair his anterior cruciate knee ligament that forced him to miss most of the 2017-18 campaign.

But this was a scarier experience for Mama.

“As rugby players we are putting ourselves at high risk of injury but you don’t expect your life to be at risk,” Mama said.

The back-rower underwent four operations in 10 days before being released from hospital with no fascia to protect the quadriceps muscles in his right thigh.

But the 28-year-old said it was still a “guessing game” over whether he would make a full recovery.

“Usually you get compartment syndrome from a car crash or a much bigger impact than what we receive on a rugby pitch,” Mama said.

“Not many rugby players have experienced the injury that I have had so there was an element of it being a bit of a guessing game.

“Most people that are involved in car crashes go back to their normal life and don’t have to worry about the leg.

“But I have to run into 120kg people every weekend so it is a slightly different dynamic.”

After three months of rehabilitation, Mama returned to the rugby field, starting in the Premiership Cup opener against Leicester Tigers in September.

Mama thought he was back to normality only to hobble off with another dead leg in the defeat to Exeter Chiefs in early November.

“I looked down at my leg and it had probably doubled in size,” said Mama who spent the next six weeks on the sidelines with a recurrence of the compartment syndrome.

"I found out the hard way that it needs an extra level of protection.”

Mama now wears heavy padding on his right leg which was tested in Worcester Cavaliers’ clash with Wasps A two weeks ago. But he insisted it did not hamper his performance.

“I definitely had a good solid impact in that area, but the pad worked absolutely fine so I am very happy with how it is,” Mama said.

“One of the biggest things for me was finding out whether there was any loss of athletic ability, strength and power in my leg.

“But I have done all the speed, strength and power tests and, if anything, it is better than it was before.

“There is nothing that is going to hold me back.”

Mama will now travel to north London with Warriors after being named on the bench and is looking forward to taking on a Saracens side galvanised by their 35-point deduction.

The reigning Premiership champions languish at the foot of the table after their punishment but are clawing their way back.

“They are throwing everything at their Premiership games and have been spirited by what has gone on in the past,” Mama said.

“We had some good success there last year and we will look to put them under pressure.

“We are quite evidently going to be underdogs against the stars that they have in their team.

“But we are quite happy to have that tag.”