Leeds Rhinos' Callum McLelland 'on the mend' and aiming for May return

After a frustrating start to the year, Leeds Rhinos half-back Callum McLelland is “on the mend” and aiming to be in Betfred Super League contention next month.

The 21-year-old underwent surgery on an ankle at the end of last season and had just recovered from that when he was sidelined again, this time by a groin problem.

That was operated on last week and he is confident, once recovery and rehab’ is completed, his injury problems are behind him.

“It’s all good, I am on the mend now,” McLelland confirmed.

Callum McLelland last played in Rhinos' narrow win at Wakefield on November 1 last year. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.

“Hopefully it’ll be about a month, maybe a bit more, it just depends how it heals.

“But it has all gone well and I can’t wait to get back to it now.”

McLelland made six starts, plus two appearances off the bench, last season, taking his club total to 11, but has not played since Rhinos’ two-point win at Wakefield Trinity on November 1.

“I came back from my ankle injury, trained twice and it aggravated it more or less straight away,” he said of his groin problem.

“It just got progressively worse.

“I was seen by Leeds’ physios and the club doctor and we thought we knew what it was, but it turned out it was something a bit more severe so I had to go to a specialist.

“After a few weeks of rehab’ and a couple of running sessions it wasn’t getting any easier so I went and saw the specialist and he said ‘we’re going to need to operate’.

“At least now it’s all done and just a matter of time.”

The timing could not have been much worse for McLelland, who is keen to impress in the final year of his contract.

Rob Lui, Leeds’ first-choice stand-off, is on the long-term casualty list, with a quad muscle tear suffered in training more than a month ago and McLelland would have been a leading candidate to take his place, if fit.

Instead, Liam Sutcliffe has started at stand-off in the opening two games of the campaign and rookies Jack Broadbent, Alex Sutcliffe and Corey Hall have all featured in the centres.

“Now it’s just about getting right and hopefully when I am back fit I get a few opportunities and hopefully I can give a better account of myself,” McLelland said.

“Now I know exactly what’s wrong, I know it’s fixed and it’s just a matter of time.

“Before, it was a bit of the unknown, not knowing when the pain was going to stop.

“I have got a much brighter outlook on it now and I am more determined than ever.”

McLelland, who began his career in Castleford Tigers’ academy before a stint in Scottish rugby union, is one of eight Rhinos players currently unavailable because of injury.

Seven of those are backs and none is expected to feature in Saturday’s Betfred Challenge Cup tie at St Helens.

McLelland admitted he is desperate to get fit to help during a testing time for the squad.

“It’s not just me thinking like that, it’s all the injured lads,” the Scotland international said.

“Especially last week against Cas, we are down on troops.

“That’s no excuse, but everyone who’s not on the field wants to be back as quickly as possible to help out.”

But McLelland reckons there is a positive to Rhinos’ injury woes.

He stressed: “On the other hand, it gives all the younger lads some more experience and they will be better in the future for the games they’ve played in now.”

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