TOUGH PEOPLE, rugby league players.
Leeds Rhinos’ Carl Ablett will take to the field for the third time since suffering a gruesome finger injury in the Good Friday win over Castleford Tigers, when Leeds Rhinos visit St Helens tonight.
Ablett’s finger effectively split at the bottom, peeling back – in the words of coach Brian McDermott – “like a banana”.
The bone was showing and Ablett had to sit out the rest of the Castleford game, following the first-half incident, but he was back on the field just three days later for the Easter Monday derby against Wakefield Trinity Wildcats.
He also played last Sunday, filling in out of position at centre against Salford Red Devils and said it would need to be a much more serious injury to keep him out of tonight’s second-versus-first tussle at Langtree Park.
Describing the injury, Ablett said: “It was a proper open wound – I could see the bone.
“It was one of those when I knew straight away I had to go off and get it fixed up.
“Fortunately I was able to rest it for most of the Cas game. I had stitches in it after the game and we did our best to bandage it up on Easter Monday and last Sunday.
“It’ll be the same [tonight], just strap it up the best you can and hope for the best.”
Ablett has got through his two games since the injury happened relatively unscathed.
“I had to have a few of the stitches out after Sunday’s game and a few more put in,” he said.
“It split up a bit again, so I had three out and three more put in.
“It’s just in one of those places where it’s constantly flexing or you’re constantly moving it, so it’s hard for it to bind together.
“It might be like that for a while, so it’s just a case of bandaging it up and going out there and getting on with the job.”
Ablett insisted by playing with the wound he is just doing what rugby league players do.
He said: “People have played with a lot worse – who needs a finger anyway?
“It is just one finger, you can strap it to the other one and get on with it. There’s plenty of players, especially at this time of year, just after Easter, who run out carrying knocks.
“It is just part of the game. You have to be tough and be prepared to play through a bit of pain. It’s whatever you have to do for the team.
“I don’t like missing games, so I’m not going to miss a game through a cut. I’ll just bandage it up and get on with it.”
There are circumstances when players can’t make it on to the field – such as last week when Ablett moved from the second-row into the centres after Kallum Watkins was sidelined by illness.
“It was difficult, because I didn’t know until Sunday morning, when Kallum pulled out,” Ablett said.
“I had prepared to be in the back-row and changing that late, it can be difficult.
“But I had a couple of hours in the morning when I was just processing the changes I had to make to play there.
“Once we got out there, it was really difficult in the first half because the wind was swirling against us and we couldn’t get any passes together.
“There wasn’t very much space out there, but it’s just about doing your job and getting forward and defending really well.
“We got the two points and that was the main thing.”
By the end of tonight’s game Rhinos could be six points clear at the top of First Utility Super League, or hanging on to a two-point advantage over Saints.
“It is a big one,” Ablett said. “They started the season off well, but I think people haven’t been talking about them as much because they’ve had a couple of defeats.
“We will be expecting a tough game. They had a good win at the weekend against Huddersfield and whenever we play them they are great games.
“It will be interesting, but we will go into it with three victories over Easter, so confidence will be high and we have to take that into the game.”
Rhinos will be top whatever happens tonight, but Ablett insisted: “We’re not sitting with our chests out thinking ‘we’re all right here’.
“Last week we were scratchy with the ball a bit and the way we were finishing our sets wasn’t good enough in the second half.
“It’s not like we are sitting at the top, patting each other on the back and saying ‘aren’t we playing well’.
“There’s still plenty to work on and we’ll probably have to play better than we did last week.
“They are starting to get a few players back and hopefully they’ll be as strong as they can be.
“That’s what you want, you want the best players on the field to showcase our great game.
“Hopefully they’ll get a few back and hopefully we can as well and put on a good show.”
St Helens: from Makinson, Turner, Jones, Swift, Burns, Walsh, Masoe, Roby, Amor, Wilkin, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Walmsley, Flanagan, Thompson, Richards, Savelio, Ashworth, Davies, Fleming.
Leeds Rhinos: from Hardaker, Handley, Watkins, Moon, Golding, McGuire, Burrow, Singleton, Aiton, Peacock, Ablett, S Ward, Sinfield, Achurch, Delaney, Sutcliffe, Cuthbertson, Yates, Keinhorst.
Referee: Ben Thaler.
Kick-off: Tonight, 8pm.