LEEDS RHINOS captain Kevin Sinfield says he will hit the ground running next year – despite undergoing off-season knee surgery.
Sinfield went under the knife last week, just days after Rhinos began preparations for 2015.
The skipper described the operation as a “minor setback”, but insisted he is determined to make the most of the longest pre-season of his professional career.
“I did it [the injury] in the season,” Sinfield revealed.
“We thought the rest throughout the off-season would fix it up, but unfortunately that wasn’t the case.
“Just before we came in it was scanned, I saw the specialist and had the operation.
“It sounds a lot worse than it is. I won’t be able to run for a number of weeks, but I am confident – and so are the medical and conditioning staff – that I’ll be fine come Christmas/January time.
“I have got a longer pre-season than I’ve had in the past and it might actually be a blessing in disguise.
“It will allow me to work on some specific areas that I’ve not been able to do before.
“In many ways it can be seen as a minor setback, but I think I will probably get a huge positive out of it as well.”
Sinfield is taking part in training, but will be unable to run until after Christmas.
He trained in his own time before the official start of pre-season and revealed: “I feel in better shape now – having done four weeks’ training and been sent a programme – than I did going into the start of the season.
“There’s seven weeks in front of me when I can do a lot of quality weights and a lot of alternative cv work.
“Come Christmas or early January I suspect I will be flying. I won’t have done a lot of running at that stage, but I’ll be able to catch up pretty quickly.
“The rest of it, certainly skills and weights-wise, I will be in a great place.
“I am in a great place mentally as well.
“It is great to be back in, feeling refreshed and smiling and laughing and enjoying the training.”
Sinfield stepped down as England captain and announced his international retirement two months ago.
Rhinos’ three England squad members – Zak Hardaker, Kallum Watkins and Ryan Hall – will not begin pre-season training until the new year.
But Sinfield insisted he will benefit from a full build-up to Rhinos’ Super League kick-off at Hull KR on Sunday, February 8.
“Before, it has always been a cramming mission,” he admitted.
“To have the luxury this time of having three months – or four months in effect – that is the longest I have ever had to prepare for a season.
“Even when I was a kid in my teens, preparing to play amateur, I never had this long.
“I will make the most of it and get the best out of it and come the start in February I will be flying and absolutely bouncing.”
Sinfield admitted Rhinos’ players are still feeling the disappointment of last season, when they lost their final four league matches and fell at the first hurdle in the play-offs.
But he stressed: “The lads who have been in so far have been fantastic.
“They have really ripped in, everybody’s smiling and it is a good place to be.”