'It came at a rubbish time': Leeds Rhinos' Liam Tindall on his broken face and return to action

It pays to be prepared, as Leeds Rhinos rookie Liam Tindall found after two months on the injury list.

By Peter Smith
Wednesday, 20th July 2022, 6:00 am

The 20-year-old winger travelled to France expecting to be 18th man for Rhinos’ Betfred Super League game at Toulouse.

But he found himself called on to the substitutes’ bench at short notice after Liam Sutcliffe was ruled out through illness and Jack Sinfield took over in the starting side.

“It was the first time I’ve been called into action from being 18th man,” the East Leeds product confirmed.

Liam Tindall battles Guy Armitage for a high ball at Toulouse. Picture by Manuel Blondeau/SWpix.com.

“But from the get-go I didn’t want to be complacent and see it as three days in the sun.

“I got there and prepped like the rest of the boys, because weird things do happen and it did [on Saturday].

“I made sure I was professional in the way I went about it and I was ready for the call up when it came round.”

Last Saturday was Tindall’s sixth appearance this season and the 10th of his Rhinos career, but first since the 12-0 home win over Hull KR on April 29.

Lim Tindall on the charge away to Wigan. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.

That was Jamie Jones-Buchanan’s final game as interim-coach, before Rohan Smith took charge.

“I had a facial fracture,” Tindall confirmed. “I was out for a couple of months, but I have just been ticking boxes in training, making sure I was ready when I got back on the pitch.

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“I didn’t rush it, I took things at my own pace and I am ready to go now.”

Liam Tindall. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.

Tindall added: “We weren’t 100 per cent sure if it [the injury] was from a match or training.

“I went for a scan and it came up with a facial fracture, which we weren’t expecting.

“It was just a case of rest, that was the frustrating thing.

“I wasn’t able to do a lot of training, because the pressure could cause the fracture again.

“It was really light training for a long time, which was a struggle.

“I haven’t been off my feet before with an injury, but I have come through it.”

Tindall, who made his debut two years ago, was becoming established in the team before his enforced layoff.

“I was just getting into the swing of things,” he recalled.

“I was getting some game time under my belt, so it did come at a rubbish time, really.

“I am 100 per cent fit now and ready for selection every week.

“Last week was the first time I was up for selection and I managed to get some game time, which was really good.

“I came on, got a few carries and just tried bringing the energy up.

“It was red hot, the sun was sapping it out of the boys so I just tried to get on and create a bit of energy.”

Tindall is among a crop of academy products the club could build a team around for the next decade, but in the short-term, he has Ash Handley and David Fusitu’a ahead of him in the pecking order.

“Both world-class wingers, it is not going to be an easy gig,” he admitted.

“They are great to be around in training and I couldn’t think of two better people to be around. Ash is an international winger in my eyes, easily. He’s only young really, not towards the end of his career and it’s good to be just behind him and have good conversations with him and get advice from him.

“I just have to be ready and take every opportunity I can, because it’s not going to be often they come up.”

Having not played under Smith before last weekend, Tindall is in a good position to judge what has changed since the new coach arrived.

“The style of play is different since I was last playing,” he noted. “There’s a lot more backs getting involved and scooting around.

“It’s the style of play I like so it suits me massively. A bit off the cuff, open space and beating defenders, it is my sort of rugby really.”