LEEDS RHINOS’ Brett Ferres is aiming for a strong second half of the season after making his comeback in the 72-10 Ladbrokes Challenge Cup win over Barrow Raiders two days ago.
Ferres missed Rhinos’ opening five games this year, played in the next three and was then banned for six matches for a dangerous tackle on Wigan’s Oliver Gildart.
That was the joint-longest ban – along with Brad Singleton’s suspension earlier this year – handed out to a Leeds player in the Super League era.
But it gave Ferres extra time to continue his recovery from a groin injury and, after working with a specialist in Ireland, he reckons he has come back in good shape.
“It has been difficult,” he admitted of the layoff.
“Obviously with the circumstances of being banned it was a tough one, but we’ve used the time well and I’ve got fixed up.
“I’m really pleased to come back and get some good minutes under my belt and I’m looking forward to Sunday now.
“I played about 70 minutes [against Barrow], just over.
“I had a good week’s run into it and I felt a lot better than the last time I came back so hopefully I can have a strong push now for the back end of the season.”
Ferres said he got through the cup tie pain-free, thanks to the treatment he received in Ireland.
“It has been brilliant,” he said. “There was no pain and I could manage to get a stride out of my legs, which was nice
“It is all good now. I’ll keep working on what I’ve been doing and try to get fit now and keep my spot.”
Ferres has returned at a key point in the season with the Magic Weekend coming up, followed by two games in four days at the end of the month and then a Challenge Cup quarter-final against Featherstone Rovers in mid-June.
“We’re coming up now to the business end,” he said. “Big games are coming thick and fast so it’s good to be back on board.”
Sunday’s game against league leaders Castleford Tigers will be a huge test for Rhinos, who were beaten 66-10 at the Jungle in March.
“They are the form team in the comp’ and they are playing some good football,” Ferres said of his former club.
“This week is about us. We know what we’ve got to do, we’ve worked on a lot of decent things in practice and we need to have a good week’s prep’ now.
“We know what Cas are all about, they throw the ball about very well and defend tough as well.
“We need to be on our game and perform well. But we did a good job [on Sunday] against a good Barrow side.
“You can see why they are challenging teams in their comp.
“There were certainly some positives for us; we held tough for some spells and played some good stuff. We were probably a bit too expansive at times, but it was certainly a pleasing performance.”