VETERAN PROP Kylie Leuluai has described his long lay-off as “part of the game”.
The Leeds Rhinos forward, who is in what is likely to be the final year of his playing career, has been sidelined since the loss at Warrington Wolves two months ago, when he suffered a biceps injury which later led to him undergoing shoulder surgery.
He was a surprise inclusion in Rhinos’ initial 19-man squad for last Sunday’s First Utility Super League fixture at Widnes Vikings and warmed up with the team as 18th man, but does not expect to return to action for several more weeks.
The long spell on the sidelines is a blow for the five-time Grand Final winner, but he insisted he remains determined to go out on a high when he eventually returns to full fitness.
“I’m feeling good,” said Leuluai, who has yet to start a game for Rhinos this season, after coming off the bench in four of their opening five matches.
“But at the same time, it is part of the game. It has been good watching the boys playing well. I would rather be playing, but that’s just the way it goes.
“I am not 27, I am 37 and I accept the fact this will probably be my last year. I will just take it like that.”
Academy product Brad Singleton and import Adam Cuthbertson have established themselves as starting props for Rhinos this season and Leuluai admitted he doesn’t expect to walk straight back into the side when he is given the all-clear to resume playing.
“The boys are top of the table and they’ve been playing really well,” he said. “I will just have to fight to get back in the team, when I get back fit eventually.”
Of his injury, Leuluai said: “It is okay, it is what you’d expect after an operation. It will take a few weeks and a few games to get used to the way it is. Obviously when you have an operation the injury is never the same, the area that has been operated on is never the same – whether it be a knee or an arm or a hand, or whatever. It will take a while, but that’s just part of it.”
Leuluai revealed he was hurt initially in Rhinos’ Super League round-three win over Huddersfield.
“I played two weeks with it, but it was shocking so I had to get it done,” he said. “What happened was the biceps tore and the tendons tore some cartilage from the shoulder at the same time.
“I should be back in a couple of weeks. It’s four to six weeks [recovery] and in two weeks it’ll be six weeks.”
Leuluai admitted 18th man duties last week were a bitter-sweet experience. He said: “It was good to be back with the boys, but it is hard, because you want to play. I would rather play than be 18th man.”
Meanwhile, winger Ryan Hall has had the cast removed from his fractured wrist and could be available for Saturday’s Ladbrokes Challenge Cup tie at home to Huddersfield Giants. Rhinos players Danny McGuire and Carl Ablett will be taking the Challenge Cup to Ladbrokes’ shop in Boar Lane, Leeds, tomorrow (11.30am-1.30pm).
Wildcats’ Matt Ryan has been given a one-match ban after submitting an early guilty plea following his charge of making a Grade B high tackle on Hull KR’s Ben Cockayne in last Thursday’s defeat.