PLAYER OF the year Rob Burrow is confident he won’t miss any games next year due to the knee injury which brought his 2016 campaign to an early end.
Burrow sat out Leeds Rhinos’ final game of the season, against Leigh Centurions last week, after being hurt in the defeat at Huddersfield Giants four days earlier.
There were initial fears he could need surgery and miss the start of 2017, but Burrow said the damage is less severe than first thought and he expects to play a full part in pre-season training.
“It’s not too bad,” Burrow said.
“It is not as bad as it could have been, it is probably the best outcome.
“If it was during the season I’d probably miss six weeks.
“I don’t need an operation or anything like that, it’s just a bit of old damage I have done before.”
Explaining the injury, Burrow said: “There’s bit of damage to the pcl [posterior cruciate ligament] and it’s a bit messed up in there around the tendons, but nothing has been ruptured.
“I will need to rest up; I will be doing re-hab, but hopefully I will be all right for the start of pre-season.”
Burrow began this year in the hooking role, but switched to half-back – his preferred position – midway through the campaign.
He played in 28 of Rhinos’ 32 matches and all but one of his appearances were in the starting line-up.
Boss Brian McDermott chose him as Rhinos’ outstanding player, ahead of forwards Jamie Jones-Buchanan and Keith Galloway.
The award – presented the day after he suffered the injury – was some consolation for Burrow, but he has played down the achievement.
“It’s always nice to win something like that,” said the 34-year-old, who was also player of the year in 2007 when Rhinos finished as runners-up in the league table and beat St Helens in the Grand Final.
“But it is a bit dampened with the year we’ve had.
“I think it was probably just because I’ve been captain with Danny [McGuire] being out so much.”
The win over Leigh meant Rhinos ended the season on an upbeat note, finishing top of the First Utility Qualifiers after being ninth on the Super League table.
It was the 11th victory from their final 13 games, after they lost 16 of the first 19.
“It has been a tough year, for different reasons,” said Burrow, who was a member of all Rhinos’ seven Grand Final-winning teams from 2004-2015.
But he insisted: “I am not saying it hasn’t been enjoyable, because of how tight the lads have been.
“Being involved in the middle-eights was a different experience, but we have got that out of the way now and we need to come back, work hard in pre-season and start next year fresh.
“We will be outside the favourites zone, but that will be good for us.”
Academy players Ashton Golding, Sam Hallas, Cameron Smith and Josh Jordan-Roberts all featured against Leigh and Burrow said: “It is the shining light this year that some young lads have got some experience.
“Me and Danny did something similar to this in 2001 when there were a lot of injuries and it gave us an opportunity to get out there.”