AFTER FOUR games on the sidelines, Liam Sutcliffe says he will be ready to go when Leeds Rhinos play host to Wigan Warriors tomorrow.
Sutcliffe has not played since suffering a hamstring injury in Rhinos’ 24-22 home win over St Helens on June 29.
He was named in Rhinos’ initial squad for last Saturday’s Ladbrokes Challenge Cup defeat by Hull, but did not make the matchday 17.
Instead he warmed up as 18th man and – after retaining his place in the 19 for tomorrow – he said: “Last week, we agreed, was a week too soon, but I have been back in training this week and hopefully I’ll be ready to go on Friday.
“I just started back running last week and I hadn’t done any team stuff so I think it [18th man duty] was just getting back into the swing of things, mainly.
“Obviously if something had happened and I’d played I would have been ready, but this week I am fully ready to go.”
Sutcliffe, who confirmed he is under contract for next season, has scored seven tries, 65 goals and a one-pointer in 19 appearances for Rhinos this term.
He has been named at full-back, both centre positions, stand-off, scrum-half, loose-forward and on the bench in 2017 and that versatility has made him one of the most valued members of coach Brian McDermott’s squad. He admitted the lay-off was a difficult time, but said: “It’s one of those injuries you don’t want to rush, in case it happens again.
“I have had to take my time with it and it has been frustrating watching, but now it’s over and hopefully I’ll get selected this week.
“I’ve been doing sprints and everything and it feels fine.
“Obviously it might be a bit different in a game, but I feel pretty confident with it.”
A home clash with Wigan at the start of the Super-8s is a big fixture to come back in.
But Sutcliffe insisted: “Those are the ones you want to play in.
“They had a big win last weekend in the Challenge Cup semi-final and they will be coming here full of confidence.”
If selected it will be Sutcliffe’s first appearance in the Super-8s.
He was injured in 2015 and Rhinos were in the Qualifiers last year having finished ninth in the table.
“I am really looking forward to it,” he said. “Hopefully we can stay near the top of the table and get to the Grand Final.”
Wigan are three weeks away from a Wembley meeting with Hull, but Sutcliffe doesn’t expect them to be distracted tomorrow.
“They will be focused on us,” he warned. “They have got a job at hand and they will want to get into the top-four.
“I think they will be pushing towards it at the end of the year. They will come here wanting to do a job on us and we will be ready for a tough game.
“Last week was massively disappointing and we are still disappointed.
“But, this year, we’ve come back pretty well from defeats and, hopefully, we can do that again this week – and get the win.”