Leeds Rhinos' Alex Sutcliffe happy to be back from injury but keeping quiet over link with Castleford Tigers
After almost five months on the sidelines, Alex Sutcliffe is delighted to be back in the picture with Leeds Rhinos - though it may be only a brief return.
Sutcliffe, winner of last year’s Evening Post Shooting Star award, played five times at the start of the season, scopring one try, but suffered a knee injury in a defeat at Friday’s opponents Hull KR in April.
That kept him out of action until last week, when he returned as a substitute in a 40-6 loss away to St Helens.
The 22-year-old - who is out of contract at the end of this season and tipped to join Castleford Tigers - was introduced off the bench late in the game and thrilled to be restored to the team, even at this late stage in the campaign.
“You can’t really beat playing with the lads,” said the centre/second-rower who made his Leeds debut in 2017.
“Obviously the result didn’t go our way, but personally, for me to get 15 minutes at the back end of the game, even though the game had gone, it felt good to be back out there.”
Sutcliffe’s layoff dragged on much longer than initially thought, after he had made a strong start to the campaign.
“It was more annoying than anything.
“Obviously I got a little injury and it put me out for quite a while, which we didn’t really expect.
“I just kept getting more recurrences with the injury, so it was a long process.”
Sutcliffe eventually had surgery which he is confident has cured the problem.
“The operation has sorted it all out, so I’m all good now,” he said.
Sutcliffe signed for Featherstone Rovers on loan last month, before the transfer deadline, but did not make an appearance for the club where he starred in 2019 on dual-registration.
“They signed me on loan in case I needed to go and play there for a little bit to get some game time before coming back to Leeds,” he explained.
Though Rhinos’ season could be over if they lose to Hull KR on Friday, Sutcliffe is hoping for more time on the field this year.
“Hopefully we can do a job this week and beat Hull KR and that’ll put us in the play-offs,” he said.
“Hopefully if I get picked I’ll get a chance and I’d love to help the boys in the play-offs.”
Rhinos will need a big improvement from their first half performance at Saints, having trailed 28-6 at the break.
That was their heaviest defeat this year, but Sutcliffe is confident they will come up with the right response in what might be a winner takes all clash.
“We can bounce back, we always seem to,” he said.
“We got beaten by Wakefield a couple of weeks ago, which was really disappointing, then we came back and beat Hull at the Magic Weekend.
“Hopefully we can do the same this week.”
Sutcliffe’s deal with Leeds ends in November and he is believed to be heading for a fresh start at Castleford
Of his future, he said: “Nothing has been released or confirmed yet, so I can’t really say.”
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