ENGLAND FORWARD Brett Ferres is confident he will make a positive impact for Leeds Rhinos this year.
Ferres did not feature in Leeds’ warm-up games and is a doubt for Thursday’s Betfred Super League opener at St Helens.
But he reckons the months of hard work he has put in during the off-season will pay off when he returns, fully fit, to the team.
“I had a couple of issues towards the back end of last season, the last 10-12 games,” revealed Ferres, who joined Rhinos from Huddersfield Giants 13 months ago.
“I just needed the time to try and get it right. I was literally just turning up to games and playing.
“I wasn’t training throughout the week, I was barely getting to the captain’s run.
“I was just playing on the weekend and doing what I could for the team.
“Pre-season has been a really good opportunity to strip me back a little bit and get some real strength in what I’ve been doing.”
Ferres added: “I’ve not been training with the boys much.
“I’ve been doing more weights and more physical aspects to try and strengthen in and around things, to try and get rid of those niggles.
“It has been a tough pre-season, but very enjoyable and it’s what I needed.
“I’ve played a lot of games the last few years and had the England stuff and I’ve not had time to build a decent base, so I’ve stripped right back and hopefully now I can look forward to a good year.”
The problems which kept Ferres out of Leeds’ pre-season games were not related to the calf tear he suffered with England last autumn, which forced him to withdraw from the Four Nations.
He described the abductor muscle issue as “quite complex”, but said: “Luckily we’ve got a great physio team here, who’ve identified what the problem is.
“We’ve worked hard and I’m back running, so I just need to get some decent milage under my belt and get back fit again.”
Rhinos will need Ferres to be fit and firing if they are to get back among the title challengers after last year’s disappointing ninth-place finish.
A relegation battle wasn’t what Ferres expected when he joined the previous season’s treble-winners, but he is optimistic about what they can achieve this term.
“It was a tough season,” Ferres admitted of 2016.
“There were many factors behind that, but I think towards the back end – even in Super League – we knocked a few decent wins off.
“In the eights we performed decently and found a bit of consistency in performance.
“We’ve got a couple of new guys in to freshen us up a bit and I think the guys will benefit from what happened last year and draw on that experience.
“It was a tough time and we can only get better from that.”
Rhinos are three days away from getting back down to business and Ferres admitted they need to hit the ground running in Thursday’s tough opener.
“It’s important how you start – the start of the season and the start of games,” he said.
“We have put a lot of emphasis on that.
“We’ve had a couple of good tests against Hull KR and Featherstone and it’s a big opening to Super League.
“Hopefully we’ll make a decent start.”