LONG-SERVING FORWARD Brett Delaney has become the latest Leeds Rhinos player to have his season ended early by injury.
The 32-year-old Australian has not played since suffering a fractured eye socket in Rhinos’ defeat at Castleford Tigers on July 8.
He had hoped to be given the all-clear to play in the final few games of the Qualifiers, but has now been told he needs three more months’ recovery.
Delaney, who made his debut in 2010, is out of contract this autumn, but the Yorkshire Evening Post understands a new deal is on the table.
“I have been seeing the surgeon that operated on me and an eye specialist every week for the last eight weeks and they’ve come to the conclusion it is still swollen and the muscle’s not strong enough,” Delaney confirmed.
“I have got blurred vision at 15 degrees and that’s going to take time.”
Delaney had been training, though not contact work, in an attempt to come back this year.
“I’ve been doing my best,” he said.
“I’ve been running on the treadmill and I was doing all right.
“I’ve been doing everything to get my heart rate up, other than a contact session.
“I’ve been doing that for a few weeks so I am gutted really.
“It has cut my season short again and, after being told it would be a seven-week duration initially, it has turned into a nightmare really.”
It is the third successive year Delaney has suffered a season-ending injury, after a dislocated kneecap in 2016 and a hamstring problem last term. And he admitted: “I was frustrated when the surgeon said another three months.
“I wish he would have told me that at the start.
“I was on that treadmill getting flogged every day, thinking I’d be all right and hoping I’d go see the specialist and he’d give me the all-clear, but when I got there he said ‘no’. I had no words.
“It’s really disappointing, especially with the position we are in.
“It’s an important time of the year. It’s not the best place to be, the middle-eights, and I want to be out there supporting my team-mates.
“Unfortunately, I’ll have to support them from the sidelines which is the worst place.
“I’ve copped it now and got my head around it.
“I am still training and I’m still positive.
“I just need to get my eye right. I’ve still got blurred vision and that’s a nightmare because I can’t drive and things like that.
“It has been hard the last 10 weeks.”
Of his future at Leeds, Delaney said nothing has been agreed.
“I’m not sure,” he said.
“At the moment my eye is taking up all my head space.
“I am keen to get back playing and I am talking to the club.
“I have had a good eight or nine years here and hopefully I can have a couple more.
“I am definitely not retiring, while I still think I can play at the top level I’ll play, hopefully at Leeds.”
Others Rhinos players ruled out for the rest of the season are knee injury victims Kallum Watkins, Ryan Hall and Mitch Garbutt.
Meanwhile, full-back Kiedan Hartley has become the second Rhinos academy player to sign for Featherstone Rovers.
The East Leeds product has penned a one-year contract and will join his former Rhinos under-19s team-mate Dakota Whylie in Rovers’ squad next season.