THERE’S just a few days to go and, hopefully, I’ll be playing again for Leeds Rhinos for the first time since the end of April.
Obviously it’s been a bit of blessing that we’ve had a week off without a game last weekend.
When I got injured earlier in the season I didn’t have that many sessions back so it was a bit of a rush but the way the game is at the minute there’s no hiding.
You can do as much off-the-feet stuff as you want when you’ve got lower leg injuries, like mine, to try keep fitness up.
But, given the amount we run in a game, you can’t beat that actual running load.
Coming back does open you up to other injuries so it has been quite nice that we’ve had a long week and I’ve got some decent amount of running in me.
Hopefully I’ll see the benefits of that as, at the minute, I probably feel the strongest I have physically felt ever before during my career.
I’ve focused on putting some size on and this last week upped my running to a decent level.
Now it’s just a case of getting through these last couple of days – Friday and Saturday – and ticking a couple of boxes.
It’s not often I’m actually injured.
I learnt at my testimonial that there’s been about 80 per cent of games where I’ve been available. I think that’s a pretty decent stat.
I had a knee recon’ done and missed a full season back in 2005 and since then had the odd injury – a broken thumb, a few ops – but nothing too long-term.
It’s hard when you’ve not been running, though. Ask any player when they come back off a long lay-off due to a lower leg injury; you can’t run, you can’t get on the field and you can’t really practice, yet at times you’re expected to go in there and carry on from where you left off.
That can be really difficult and it probably will take a game or two for me, but I’m hoping it’s not too long.
I’m pretty experienced now and, as you get older and wiser, playing as many games as I have, you get to know your body and what it takes to be there. Probably the biggest thing I learned from growing up with this team, that is so full of experienced players like JP (Jamie Peacock) and Kev (Sinfield), is that JP knew his own body.
He knew what he had to do to play at this level, what he had to do physically during the week and what he had to do to recover; he made it his priority to be in peak condition come game day.
You think of his age last year – 37 – and then hear stories of other lads at the back end of their careers. They get looked after.
But Kev and JP were two opposites; they didn’t want to miss sessions.
They were telling physios they were all right and that mentality they’d get through it.
That’s important – mentally if you can push through it and physically do it.
The knee, ankle, shoulder, whatever, might be a bit sore but it shows that when you get to those tough points in games where you’re maybe carrying an injury, or you’re tired or your mind is saying it can’t get somewhere, well, that’s what you go back to in that training.
As for the game on Sunday and our position, we know we can maybe catch Widnes in eighth mathematically.
We just need to keep winning and focusing on performance.
We’ve four more regular games. Widnes are not in the greatest form, but I did think they were great in their last game at Warrington and unlucky not to win, so I expect them to bounce back.
But we’ve had a good build-up, managed to have a mini-review during the season, which has been good, tweaked a few things and, so, hopefully we should be good for the rest of this campaign.