LONG-TERM Leeds Rhinos casualty Rob Burrow is confident of an earlier than expected return to action.
Burrow was initially ruled out for three months after suffering a fractured collarbone in Rhinos’ Tetley’s Challenge Cup win over St Helens on April 26.
He had surgery to repair the damage two weeks ago and yesterday began doing light re-hab work at Rhinos’ Kirkstall training base.
“The 12 weeks [expected lay-off] started from the operation, but two weeks on from that it feels really good,” Burrow reported. “It (yesterday) was the first day I was able to do stuff in the gym, working with the physio and doing re-hab.
“I have been stuck at home not being able to do anything, but that’s behind me and I feel really good. I would hope to be back certainly before 12 weeks.”
Burrow was hurt when his collarbone collided with the knee of a St Helens ball-carrier as he tried to make a tackle.
He recalled: “It wasn’t actually that painful. When I did it it was like a stinger – when you get a whack on your shoulder the nerve goes and the pain goes down your arm, but if you can get out of playing for two or three minutes it settles down.
“I thought it was that, but when I ran back I touched it and I could feel it wobbling up and down and a gap, so I knew it was something serious.
“But I wouldn’t say it has been that painful – I’ve had dead legs that have been worse, if I am honest. I did it as a kid, when I was 13 and that was horrible – it was a lot more painful. This time it was only like a four out of 10 pain. I was on painkillers initially, but since the op I have been off them.”
Beginning work in the gym yesterday was a major step forward for Burrow, who was one of Rhinos’ most in-form players before the injury. The half-back/hooker said: “I have been doing some re-hab. I have got full use of my arm.
“I have still got a sling on, because that’s what the specialist advised, but I don’t really need it. In the gym I’ve been doing curls with dumb-bells and shoulder stability stuff. It is physio, it is not weights as such, but it’s using weights.
“That will be for the next two weeks, picking the weight up and then before you know it you are doing a weights session. I’m also doing cv (cardio vascular work) on the bike and stuff like that. I’ve just started doing that. Getting back starts now, the past two weeks has just been the bone healing, but now I am starting to get fit again.”
Burrow, who made his 400th Rhinos appearance in the Easter win at Bradford Bulls, has managed to stay relatively injury-fee during his career, so watching from the sidelines is an unusual experience.
“At the moment it is not hard, because I know I can’t play,” he said. “In a couple of weeks’ time, when it doesn’t feel like there’s anything wrong with it, that’s when it’ll be the hardest. You feel like you can play, when you still can’t.
“At the moment I know I can’t play, but it has been tough missing this period, because it’s a massive time in the season.
“The boys are doing brilliantly, but these are the games you want to be involved in – Wigan, I would have loved to play against Cas away last week and then the Magic Weekend. It is hard missing the big games, but it’s good seeing the lads doing so well.”
With specialist hooker Paul Aiton also on the long-term casualty list, due to illness, Chris Clarkson has been filling in at dummy-half. Burrow said: “He has been doing great. There’s that many good players in this team it’s good to watch them and see them from a different angle. It is great to see them doing so well and it just makes me more eager to get back.”