GRAND FINAL winner Brett Ferres is set to undergo surgery and could miss the start of next season.
The back-rower made only his 15th appearance of an injury-ravaged campaign when Leeds Rhinos crushed his hometown club Castleford Tigers 24-6 in the Betfred Super League showpiece three days ago.
Ferres had a groin problem at the start of the year, was banned for six games after returning to the side and then suffered knee damage which limited him to just one appearance in 10 games from late-June to mid-September.
He came through to play in a major final for the first time and now has his sights set on ensuring he can make a big impact next season.
“The knee is pretty shot,” Ferres revealed.
“I am going to be out quite a few months with that.
“It is quite a big operation, but it needs doing.
“To be fair I haven’t been anywhere near where I want to be – I can’t train every day like the other boys can.
“I am tagging on at the end of the session and it has been really difficult in that respect, so it was a big confidence-booster to be selected for the Grand Final.
“I had some decent game time the last two weeks and I am happy with my contribution.
“I am chuffed I could make that contribution to the boys.
“I am going to enjoy the celebrations for a few days and then get ready for next year.”
Ferres said he is “not too sure” if he will be available for next February’s Super League kick-off, but added: “I really need to be 100 per cent and if it means missing a couple of weeks that’s fine and hopefully you’ll see a better version of me next year.”
Ferres made his Super League debut for Bradford Bulls in 2005 and had been waiting ever since to play in a major domestic final.
“It is brilliant,” the former Wakefield, Castleford and Huddersfield forward said of finally getting to feature – and win – on the big stage.
“It is what dreams are made of. It is a bit surreal. It was a very emotional week building up to it.
“I had to take the emotion out of it after a few days and start thinking ‘what’s happening, what are the scenarios’, but I am proud as Punch to finally get there and get a winner’s ring.”
Ferres admitted everything “clicked into place” at the end of a turbulent 12 months.
“It has been a tough year, it has been a battle,” he conceded.
“Pre-season was tough, I tore my calf and got pulled out of the England squad with that.
“Coming back and trying to get into the Leeds side my groin went, my calf went again – everything has been so tough.
“I am still hobbling about now.
“It has been difficult, but I am so grateful Mac [coach Brian McDermott] has kept faith in me and given me a crack.
“The boys have kept their faith in me as well and hopefully I have been able to repay that.”
Ferres said there were some “tough conversations” with McDermott during the season.
“I came to this club last year to make a big difference,” he said.
“I was signed to make a big difference, but I haven’t been able to contribute the way I wanted to.
“I am looking forward to the off-season now and to getting my knee fixed, then next year I can be the real Brett Ferres and contribute to the side.”