RETURNING FORWARD Brad Singleton has revealed he was playing with a fractured shoulder before picking up a record ban.
The Leeds Rhinos front-rower has completed a six-match suspension and is in the initial 19-man squad for tonight’s Ladbrokes Challenge Cup visit of Doncaster.
Singleton was ever-present before the ban, but confirmed the enforced break has allowed him to get over some persistent injuries.
“I have got myself in decent nick,” Singleton said. “Having six weeks off in the season is disappointing, but if you take that bad out of it you can maybe see it as a blessing. I had a slight fracture in my left shoulder at the start of the season and I played so many games with that.
“I had a slight issue with my quad, so, in a way, I think it was perfect timing. I am going to be coming back as fit as I can be and I am ready and refreshed.
“The quad wasn’t too sinister, but the shoulder needed a bit of work – not an operation, but a bit of rehab from the physios. My lower body was still working so I could keep myself in good shape. The shoulder is rested up and I am fully fit and eager to get going again.”
Singleton admitted the last few weeks have been “really tough”.
He said: “The hardest part is just watching the team, whether they win or lose. You just want to be part of it. If they are losing you want to be a part of it to see if you can do anything about it and if they are winning you want to be a part of it because that’s why you play the game.
“To go to training and not be too attached to the previews and reviews is really frustrating. I’m glad it’s done now and I am ready for Doncaster.”
Singleton was accused by coach Brian McDermott of letting his team-mates down after he was handed Leeds’ longest suspension of the summer era.
“I said at the start I hope it’s not too costly,” said the front-rower, who was banned for elbowing Catalans Dragons’ Greg Bird.
“To be honest, it hasn’t been. The forwards have been in good form and we’ve been slowly building in confidence.
“Performance-wise it is slowly building. That was the best-case scenario because I wouldn’t have liked it if there were some heavy losses there.
“Then I would have felt more down about it, but the way it has gone it has been pleasing to see the boys rip in, especially over the Easter period.
“The forwards are going well. Cuthbo [Adam Cuthbertson] seems to have picked his form up from 2015 and it’s good to see Keith [Galloway] back.
“You can see confidence is building and that’s right across the training ground.”
Tonight’s visitors are seventh in Kingstone Press League One – 29 places below Rhinos in the sport’s professional structure.
“We have to treat it like we did the middle-eights last year, when we played the likes of Featherstone and London,” Singleton said.
“You probably have to give them more respect because they are doing it tough. They are in the lower leagues, probably getting paid less than us and they have a full-time job as well.
“You have got to respect them for that. They have got a strong pack and some big lads.
“My preparation won’t really change too much. You have to be prepared for anything because they are going to come here and have 80 minutes in front of a big crowd.
“This might not happen again for some of them so we’re going to expect anything.”