STEVIE Ward says he could be out of action until May next year – but then hopes to act like a new signing for Leeds Rhinos.
The second-row, who enjoyed his best season to date in 2015, has undergone knee surgery after being injured in the last Super 8s game at Huddersfield when Rhinos memorably clinched the League Leaders’ Shield
Ward, 22, has had complications along the way and already endured a number of major shoulder problems earlier in his blossoming career but is intent on returning to his finest form again next year.
“It has been a really tough period,” he admitted, having missed out on the treble-winners’ Grand Final success, too.
“It’s been a complicated injury and, to cut a long story short, I had the ACL done but have had a microfracture in my knee as well which was a bit of a setback.
“It’s deeply frustrating. After a really good year, you want to string a few seasons together but I’ve not had the best of luck.
“Having been through this sort of thing before, though, I know what has to be done and that does help a bit. I know I’m in good hands with the physios and conditioning staff to get back right and playing again, I just need to go through the processes.”
Ward, who was in the running for a potential England debut against New Zealand this autumn, is set to miss around three months of the new campaign.
“We’re thinking May time when I want to be back playing,” he said.
“So, I will miss a good chunk of the season but if I was to do anything different from this year I’d miss the start and finish off at the business end.
“I’d prefer to be back for that and hopefully in another Grand Final.
“The team will be more or less bedded in by the time I can get back so if I can have an impact like a new signing that would be good for me.”
Ward scored five tries in 27 games this term for Leeds and has been rewarded with a new five year deal – plus Kevin Sinfield’s prized No13 jersey after the ex-Leeds and England captain’s switch to Yorkshire Carnegie.
On his rehabilitation, he said: “I’m restricted to upper body weights at the moment so I go in in the morning to see the physios and then stick around with some of the other injured players.
“You have to keep mentally driven to get your knee back right and that’s what I’m doing.”
Salford City Reds have signed second-rower Matt Sarsfield, club owner Marwan Koukash has announced.
The 24-year-old was released by Kingstone Press Championship outfit Leigh Centurions earlier this week after an injury-plagued 2015 season that saw him restricted to just four first-team appearances.
He scored three tries in those four outings and Red Devils owner Koukash said on Twitter: “Another hard working player @mattsarsfield have signed for us.”