HIS planned comeback has been delayed further, but Leeds Rhinos prop Dom Crosby maintains he “feels like a new player” and will duly be ready to reach new heights in 2020.
The former Wigan Warriors and Warrington Wolves prop has suffered a wretched year having failed to play at all owing to major knee surgeries.
He had hoped to sign off 2019 on a positive note by returning in the Boxing Day Festive Challenge against Wakefield Trinity but has revealed it has been decided to wait until the new year before bringing him into action.
Crosby, who turns 29 next month, said: “After speaking with the specialist, our performance staff and the physios, I don’t think it’s going to be the right thing to do (playing against Wakefield) due to being out that long.
“It’s a long season – as everyone knows – so I think the plan is maybe to get my fitness up and get the miles in my legs first rather than jump straight into a game just because I have been out so long.
“I think that’s probably the best way to move forward.
“My first thoughts were I was a bit gutted and devastated missing out as I’d probably earmarked that game as my comeback. But I fully understand the decision and I support everyone around me and I know they support me and they have my best interests at heart.
“For the progression of my career and looking forward to the future – with me not playing much over the last three years – I think it is the right thing to do.”
Crosby, who initially joined on loan from Warrington in July 2018 before signing a three-year deal with Rhinos a few months later, had gone in for knee surgery last December. However, complications meant he needed a further operation in April which ruled him out for the whole campaign as Leeds fought for Super League survival for a second year running. Crosby suffered personal heartache in 2017 when his baby daughter Ada died shortly after birth
He said: “Some things have happened that I never planned for in ’17, ’18 and, obviously, ’19 with the injury. So I think the last time I played properly was 2016 with Wigan.
“But I feel like a new player, to be honest, being around the boys again and after so long out I feel refreshed and like a young kid with his first pre-season.
“I’m buzzing and raring to go. I just can’t wait to get back out on the field with the boys and contribute in some way.”
Having won two Grand Finals with hometown Wigan – in 2013 and again three years later – there is no doubting Crosby’s talent. However, he believes his best years are still ahead of him in Richard Agar’s side.
“I have every faith in myself and my ability and that I can progress even more,” said the rangy front-row.
“Probably the most frustrating thing for me is that I’ve never really hit my straps due to one thing or another, whether it be injury or personal problems, so I am confident in my ability.
“I believe in hard work and I believe if I do that I’ll get back to the place where I was before and, if not, even higher. I set high standards for myself in training and on the pitch and have every confidence in myself and my team-mates.”
Crosby remains confident that Leeds – as a side – can at last regain some of their old swagger, too, in 2020 after a couple of sketchy seasons at the wrong end of the Super League table.
“No one intended it to go the way it has the last couple of years,” he said, Rhinos largely misfiring since their last Grand Final success in 2017. “But, having had plenty of reviews and heart to hearts and being honest with each other after last year, I think the boys have come in and the place is buzzing at the moment.
“I know every team says it at this time of year but there is a real bond with everyone. It’s just a different atmosphere and it’s just really refreshing to be around. Everyone’s playing with a smile on their face and looking fit.”