AUSTRALIAN FORWARD Mitch Achurch is the latest of Leeds Rhinos’ long-term casualties closing in on a return to action.
A serious wrist injury has kept Achurch on the sidelines since Leeds’ Magic Weekend defeat by Wigan Warriors, on May 30.
But he is due to have the cast removed next week and he revealed: “After it’s off I think it is going to be up to me how quickly I come back.
“It’s just a case of getting the strength back into my hand. I’m hoping to be back for the start of the Super-8s and if that happens, it will have been a good decision to get it done.
“There was a fair bit of damage in there, but hopefully I can get back for the business end of the season and hopefully hit some form pretty quickly.”
Achurch added: “I feel like I am ahead of schedule.
“Even though there’s still pins in there at the moment, I feel like the strength’s right there.
“I just need to get the cast off and thenit’s just a matter of training as hard as I can to get myself back in the team.”
After damaging his wrist, Achurch played in five games before being told he needed surgery.
“I did it against Huddersfield, in the game we drew,” he said.
“I don’t remember doing it in any specific incident, I just remember after the game it being really sore.
“In this team if you miss a week somebody takes your spot and it takes you a while to get back, so I didn’t say anything for a while.
“A few weeks later I just said to the doc’ ‘I am going to need a needle, because it’s starting to get in the way of my training.’
“He told me I’d need a scan. That was the day before we played Wigan at Magic and he rang me and said I’d need an operation – play tomorrow and get it done next week.
“It all happened pretty quick, I didn’t expect an operation, I just wanted a needle really, just to train properly.
“It was a detached tendon and ligament in the middle of my wrist that was only going to get worse and could have caused arthritis, so I had to get it done.”
Achurch has been dogged by injuries since he joined Leeds in 2013.
He admitted: “It just seems to be one after the other.
“It’s never the same area, it’s in a different place every time. Hopefully this is my last one.
“We are looking all right this year, so if I can get in the team and we win something, it’ll be worth it.
“It won’t be easy getting back though. I think Stevie Ward comes back around the same week as me and Jimmy Keinhorst is playing really well in the back-row.
“Jonesy (Jamie Jones-Buchanan) might be back this week and Frog [Brett Delaney] is playing all right, so the back-row is pretty full.
“I am going to have to try and squeeze in wherever possible.”
Rhinos coach Brian McDermott is due to name an initial 19-man squad for Sunday’s visit of Catalans Dragons this afternoon.
Meanwhile, Rhinos have announced they will be returning to Jacksonville, north Florida, for a pre-season training camp in 2016.
Rhinos will be based at the University of North Florida for the camp from January 13 to January 20 and will play a USA representative side on Sunday, January. 17.