‘I will be ready to go for next season’ – Leeds Rhinos’ Liam Sutcliffe targets injury return
LONG-SERVING LEEDS Rhinos stalwart Liam Sutcliffe has undergone surgery and is confident of being fit for the start of next season.
Sutcliffe struggled with a persistent knee problem from the start of the 2021 campaign and has not played since being substituted at half-time in Rhinos’ home loss to Castleford Tigers on August 6.
He had an operation midway through last month and will be on crutches for another week before beginning his rehab’.
The 26-year-old, who came off the transfer list and signed a new long-term contract in February, does not have a timescale for when he will be back in full training, but confirmed he expects to be back to full fitness before the 2022 Betfred Super League kick-off.
“I will be ready to go for next season, definitely,” Sutcliffe – who made his Leeds debut in 2008 – said.
“I’ll be back before the start of the season, which is good.”
Sutcliffe scored three tries and a drop goal in 13 games –playing in the halves, at centre and full-back – before his season came to a premature halt.
“It is frustrating,” he said of the way this year has gone.
“It is just one of those things where I kind of knew it was coming at some point.
“It was a weird one to take, because I couldn’t really train through the week and I knew at some point in the season there’d be a time where I’d have to decide to get it done.”
Sutcliffe had problems with the knee last year, but was injury-free throughout pre-season only for the damage to flare up again just before competitive rugby resumed.
The aim at that stage was to manage it through the year, before an operation at some point in 2021.
“I was only really training once or twice a week, if that,” Sutcliffe revealed.
“That was frustrating; it is not ideal, but hopefully the surgery has gone well, which I am sure it has done.
“I am not putting too much weight through my knee yet, but I imagine once I start doing rehab I’ll start to get a lot better with it.”
Injuries have cast a shadow over Rhinos’ year and Sutcliffe is one of five players – alongside Konrad Hurrell, Luke Gale, Mikolaj Oledezki and Alex Mellor -– ruled out for the rest of the campaign.
In addition, Jack Walker has not played this term after suffering a recurrence of a foot injury in pre-season.
Despite that, with two games remaining in the regular season, Rhinos are fifth in the table and on course to qualify for the play-offs, following last Saturday’s dramatic extra-time win over rivals Hull in Newcastle.
Victory at St Helens tomorrow would secure Rhinos’ place in the top-six and Sutcliffe reckons a second successive appearance in the play-offs is within reach.
“I think we’ve got every chance,” he said.
“We put ourselves in a good position again with the win last weekend.
“There’s two games left, but I think we can do it.”
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