Leeds Rhinos star Jack Walker takes big step forward in recovery from long-term foot injury
Long-term casualty Jack Walker has taken a significant step on the comeback trail.
The Leeds Rhinos full-back has not played this year, aftera a pre-season recurrence of a foot injury which limited him to just 10 games in 2020.
But Walker, 22, is making good progress, yesterday warmed up with the team at training for the first time and is keen to do the same before a match this season.
If all goes to plan, he could make his playing return in the Boxing Day fixture against Wakefield Trinity.
“I am not far off now,” Walker confirmed.
“Probably I’m looking at two to three weeks until I’m back fully training, contact and everything, if everything goes smoothly and we don’t hit any speed bumps.
“Things are progressing really well and I joined for the first time [yesterday] in the warm-up, so that was exciting.”
Walker admitted that felt like a big step forward.
He added: “It is good just to be around the lads and be a little bit more involved.
“Normally I am running or in the gym or doing some sort of rehab’ on my own so it was good to get in and around them, have a good laugh and do a bit of the warm up.”
Walker was hailed as an outstanding prospect when he burst on to the scene in 2017, winning a Grand Final at the end of his debut season.
He made 22 appearances in each of the following two seasons, before suffering a fractured foot in a home win over Warrington Wolves in March last year.
The injury recurred in pre-season and Walker conceded this term has been tough, but insisted: “It is another opportunity to develop other things.
“I am probably the strongest I’ve ever been in the gym, which is exciting moving forward when it comes to contact and stuff.
“It has been tough, but I can see the light now at the other side of the tunnel.”
Rhinos close their regular season at home to Hull KR on Friday, when a win would secure a place in the play-offs.
Walker has told coach Richard Agar he would like the chance to warm up on the pitch before a match this year, but the full-back is adamant he won’t rush back before he is fully ready.
“Any opportunity I get just to be around the lads, I will take it,” Walker stated.
“But I’ll just take one step at a time and definitely not rush anything this time.
“I don’t want another season out so we’re going to take every precaution.”
Walker reflected: “With every injury I’ve had, I’ve got myself to 80 or 90 per cent and then I’ve come back.
“It kind of puts me back and I get injured again so this time I want to come back 100 per cent and ready to go, the best version of me.”
Dates for the 2022 season have not been announced, but Walker is aiming to be up for selection in Betfred Super League round one.
“I’ll probably get my first game on Boxing Day, if I get picked,” he said.
“I am keen to get out there, it has been far too long without a game so any opportunity, I will take it with both hands.”
Meanwhile, no Rhinos were charged after the RFL’s match review panel studied last Friday’s 40-6 defeat at St Helens.
Saints full-back Lachlan Coote received a one-game penalty notice after being charged with grade B dangerous contact.
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