Video - It’s great to be back says Leeds Rhinos’ returning star Luke Gale
NEW SIGNING Luke Gale “couldn’t be more happy” with Leeds Rhinos’ first pre-season hit-out.
Gale kicked three goals from six attempts in Rhinos’ 30-4 win over Wakefield Trinity on Boxing Day, after missing the entire 2019 season due to an Achilles injury.
The former ‘Man of Steel’, signed from Castleford Tigers, came through the game with no ill-effects and felt Leeds showed “really positive” signs as a unit.
“We looked like a team and that is going to get better and better each week,” said Gale who was the only new face in Rhinos’ 19-man squad.
“I would be really happy with that performance, Rich (Agar, Rhinos’ coach) was happy and the togetherness was really good.
“We looked a hard team to break down and on the flip side we broke them down quite well, so I couldn’t be more happy.”
A knee injury restricted Gale, then the England scrum-half, to just 15 appearances for Tigers in 2015.
He had surgery at the end of the campaign – ruling him out of a home Test series against New Zealand – and seemed set for a comeback until suffering a ruptured Achilles during a pre-season training session on January 6.
His first appearance for Leeds came 447 days after the final game of his Tigers career, a play-off defeat at Wigan Warriors on October 5, 2018.
Gale described his comeback match as “good, really enjoyable” and stressed: “I’d be really happy if it wasn’t for my goal-kicking – that was terrible, I couldn’t hit a barn door.
“That was a bit disappointing, but I felt great. I felt sharp, obviously I will tighten up from the run, but it was really positive.
“There’s been some dark days, but I am here now, I’ve had my first game back and I feel great.”
Gale was given a breather in the final quarter, but insisted he could “definitely” have played the full 80 minutes if required.
He admitted: “I was kind of disappointed to come off, really, because I was enjoying myself.”
The 31-year-old said the team performance was as pleasing as his individual contribution.
Rhinos, who led 10-0 at half-time, scored six tries and had a player held up over the line on another five occasions.
“I thought we looked good, it was a really positive start,” Gale reflected.
“We let one try in, we looked strong and all the little things were good.
“Defensively, with all the effort and stuff, I thought it was a really good platform to work off.
“I thought the combinations were good.
“Wakefield defended well to start with, they held us up a few times over the line, but we broke them down in the second half.”
Leeds will have more time to work on combinations when they travel to Spain for a warm weather training camp ahead of their next pre-season game at home to Bradford Bulls on Sunday, January 12. Gale predicted: “We will turn ourselves in (on camp) and we’ll be ready to go.”