DREAM TEAM scrum-half and Man of Steel contender Luke Gale is confident of being fit for Castleford Tigers’ Betfred Super League semi-final against St Helens on Thursday.
Gale underwent appendix surgery two weeks ago today and it was initially feared he would be sidelined for the rest of the season, but he has made a rapid recovery and confirmed he is on track to make a remarkable return to action in Tigers’ biggest game of the year so far.
Gale – one of six Castleford players yesterday named in the 2017 Super League Dream Team – insisted: “I feel good.
“I am taking the re-hab day by day, just ramping it up day by day and hopefully I’ll be all good for Thursday.
“We will see how Wednesday goes. It is always risk when you are coming back from injury, but we have got to take it however we find it really.”
The best case scenario after his operation was a return for the Grand Final, on October 7. Gale recalled: “I suddenly started feeling ill on the Monday.
“I was rushed into hospital and had my appendix out the same night – or the early hours of the next morning.
“It was a nightmare – I thought it was the season over, to be honest. I feared the worst, I thought Australia [for the World Cup which begins next month] was in the balance – I thought all sorts.
“But a guy came in, a specialist and he reassured me if everything went okay I could be back as early as three weeks.
“I am a good healer – I am not a good patient, to be honest, but I heal well.”
I am a good healer – I am not a good patient, to be honest, but I heal well.Luke Gale
Gale has been arguably the most influential player for Tigers this year and is Super League’s top points (317) and goals (129) scorer.
He admitted it would be heartbreaking to be out of the team at the most crucial time of the season.
“It is a massive game this week,” he said.
“All the hard work we have done comes down to Thursday night and it is a huge night for Castleford.”
Tigers’ ability to handle the pressure in big games has been questioned, particularly by Wigan Warriors full-back Sam Tomkins, but Gale stressed he is “100 per cent sure” they will cope.
“It will be a tough game,” he predicted.
“Saints are a quality side and I am sure they will come out all guns blazing. It will be an exciting game, but we are 80 minutes away from a Grand Final – that says it all really.”
Gale was joined in the Dream Team by Tigers full-back Zak Hardaker, winger Greg Eden, centre Michael Shenton, prop Grant Millington and second-row Mike McMeeken.