LEEDS RHINOS second-row Brett Ferres says the fundamental ability to be able to train on a daily basis means he is “learning to go again” after two years of injury frustration.
The ex-England forward is establishing himself in Brian McDermott’s squad once more following a series of setbacks.
Among them, he missed the first two months of the season having needed surgery on a long-standing knee problem following last year’s Grand Final win over Castleford Tigers.
However, as he prepares to face Castleford again in Saturday’s Magic Weekend game at Newcastle, Ferres feels he is getting back to the player he knows he can be.
“I feel like I’m doing all right and playing longer spells coming off the bench,” said the 32-year-old.
“I’ve been doing a bit in the middle of the field, too, and the knee feels fine.
“I keep chipping away at things and know it’s important to not try rushing and do 70 or 80 minutes when I’ve had issues like I’ve had the last two years.
“I can train every day now and that in itself has been very beneficial. It feels like I’m learning to go again and being able to train full-time is helping.”
Ferres made his comeback in the Good Friday draw at former club Huddersfield Giants and has played six times since. He is looking forward to now facing hometown Castleford, admitting: “I was hoping to initially get back for our Elland Road game against them in March.
“That was potentially my return date from the knee injury so I was disappointed to miss playing that one.
“I do enjoy facing them. It’s a big fixture with a big rivalry, big atmosphere and being up in Newcastle at Magic Weekend just adds a bit more to it all.”
It is a fascinating fixture that brings the first day of action to a close at St James’ Park.
Although Leeds, who finished second last term, beat runaway leaders Castleford at Old Trafford, they now sit sixth and fifth respectively.
Neither side has managed to hit their straps yet but equally so it will not worry them too much either. Tigers beat Leeds 25-24 at Elland Road earlier this season and, at Magic Weekend 12 months ago, they also prevailed 29-18.
However, that game in Newcastle – when Rhinos had been competitive for much of the contest – was when Ferres felt confident they would eventually get over their dominant rivals when it mattered most.
He recalled: “It was an interesting one last year. Cas were playing brilliant, everything that could go their way did go their way, and they were playing some cracking football. They were relatively injury-free, too, and certainly the team to beat.
“But this year things have changed a little bit. They’ve not been struggling but their style of play hasn’t been as effective.
“They are still a very dangerous side, though, with very good players. But we’re going through a process at the moment to make ourselves more consistent. That’s our focus. We’ve been patchy and we need the balance right to get that complete performance.”