GRAND FINAL hero Adam Cuthbertson is confident he will be fit for the start of Leeds Rhinos’ Betfred Super League title defence.
The Australian forward has undergone surgery after suffering knee and ankle injuries in Leeds’ victory over Castleford Tigers at Old Trafford 13 days ago.
That delayed his off-season break until next weekend, but he is set to return to Leeds between Christmas and New Year and is confident he will be fully fit when the season begins in February.
“In the Grand Final I tore my meniscus [knee cartilage] really badly,” he revealed. “I had to have that removed completely. It’s not ideal, but it is what it is.
“I also did a syndesmosis [ligament strain] in my ankle. I didn’t need surgery on that, but that’s probably causing me more grief than the knee.
“It is a bit of a pickle, but it has been a week since I had surgery and I am on the mend and I’ll be right for the start of next season.”
Cuthbertson added: “If you get the meniscus repaired it is usually 12 weeks, but with the removal of it it is only up to eight.
“If I can take a positive out of it, that’s the positive. I’ll have plenty of time before the start of the season.”
Cuthbertson was injured in the first half of the Grand Final, but managed to return to the action after a spell on the bench.
“When I came off Mac [coach Brian McDermott] asked if I was okay to keep playing,” he recalled.
“I knew if I could tape it up and get back out there I didn’t have long to play. I couldn’t play my normal game, I just had to go out there and be a spanner in the works and play a bit more like a regular prop.
“It was quite easy to adapt because we didn’t really need that style of game, it was a defensive game and it was going to be the team who held their line and held their nerve for the whole game that won it.
“It was terrible to do that injury, but the dynamic of the game made it easier for me to change and adapt the way I play.”
Cuthbertson has not returned to Australia since joining Leeds ahead of the 2015 season.
“I’m very much looking forward to it,” he said. “I’ve not seen the beaches in a while – or the sun for that matter.
“It’ll be nice to do that, but we are going into camp on January 2 and I’ll be back here before that.”
Meanwhile, Cuthbertson will continue to support children in hospital in Leeds over Christmas, despite being 12,000 miles away.
For the past two years he has sold training gear to raise money for gifts which he has distributed on the children’s wards on Christmas Day.
He said: “We’ll be selling bundles of training gear out of the club shop again this year and hopefully doing an online auction as well.
“We’ll be selling off training gear from this year and past years as well. Jamie Jones-Buchanan has handed me a bunch of stuff that goes back a few years.
“At the end of the season it just goes to the back of the closet so this is a good way to get rid of it and help the Leeds children’s hospital.”
Details of the auction have yet to be announced, but Cuthbertson said it will feature items of Grand Final memorabilia including signed pictures of each player which were displayed in the Old Trafford changing rooms before the win over Castleford.
Cuthbertson will not be in Leeds to distribute gifts this year, but said: “I’ve had a few candidates put their hand up to do it – Stevie Ward’s one of them – but I don’t want to get anyone to commit just yet.”