WHEREAS most players are feeling the strain at this time of year, not particularly looking forward to a third game in just over a week, Leeds Rhinos’ Brett Ferres is in a slightly different position.
The England second-row has only just returned to action for the first time since featuring in last year’s Grand Final win over Castleford Tigers.
He underwent major surgery in the off-season on a long-standing troublesome knee problem but made his comeback in the Good Friday draw at Huddersfield Giants and came off the bench, too, during the Easter Monday win over Salford Red Devils.
With that in mind, having been out for more than five months, he should be looking to make up for lost time and banging down Brian McDermott’s door to make sure he plays at Wakefield Trinity tomorrow as well.
“I wouldn’t say that!” Ferres told The Yorkshire Post.
“Just getting out there for 20 minutes against Huddersfield was good on Friday and I woke up Saturday feeling pretty good and fresh.
“I put my hand up to play Monday, too, and managed a full second half then. I felt pretty good after that as well with how the knee went and I’m available again for Sunday if selected.”
It has been a challenging time for the experienced player who turns 32 later this month.
“It’s been tough pre-season and it was nice to just finally get out there against Huddersfield,” explained Castleford-born Ferres.
“Obviously it was disappointing to miss the start of the season but you do kind of forget about that once you’re on the field with a ball in hand and enjoying it.
“I got told a couple of different things about the knee – three months initially and then six but I was back in between those two.
“It was just important to get it fixed, get it right. It wasn’t going to get any better and it got to the point after that Grand Final that I just needed it fixing.
“It was poor for the club that I was playing injured and poor for myself that I couldn’t do what I was really required to as a player.”
Hopefully now the former Huddersfield vice-captain – who joined in a £100,000 deal at the start of 2016 – can produce his best on a more regular basis.
It was just important to get it fixed, get it right. It wasn’t going to get any better and it got to the point after that Grand Final that I just needed it fixing.Leeds Rhinos’ Brett Ferres
Ferres played for Wakefield himself in 2007 and 2008 after leaving Bradford Bulls – where he won the World Club Challenge when still just 19 – in a swap deal involving Kiwi David Solomona.
Trinity began this campaign with four successive wins but have now lost four on the trot placing extra importance on tomorrow’s game for Chris Chester’s side.
Ferres insisted: “They are a good team. They always start the season well and are always up near the top but Easter can hurt sides. You can lose a couple and suddenly you slip down again.
“They have some class players in their outside backs, though, plenty of pace, the halves are very sharp and they are big across the board. I’m glad to see Jordan Baldwinson in there. He’s obviously an ex-Leeds lad, a good player and he has plenty about him. Hopefully we’ll get to go up against each other come Sunday.”
Rhinos are ticking along nicely in their title defence, suffering just two defeat and, heading into this round, being the only side to beat leaders St Helens.
Ferres added: “We’ve been going alright. We started off pretty well and had to use the full squad.
“We seem to be getting a few players back now and hopefully there’ll be a few more soon.
“We’re digging some results out and getting three points from four over Easter is pleasing.”
Now he is back in the Leeds side there will be inevitable talk about whether Ferres can win back his spot in the England squad having suffered an injury-ravaged 12 months.
He managed just 15 games last year so was never truly in the World Cup reckoning even before going under the knife post-Old Trafford.
But the skilful second-row – who came to the fore in the 2013 World Cup – was in Wayne Bennett’s initial elite performance squad last year so is likely to still be in the Australian’s thoughts.
He said: “Stuff like that is always brilliant and there’s always a chance as that door is always open. But there’s loads of good players in my position and my main aim is to stay fit and to stay in the Leeds side.
“I don’t expect anything and don’t ever look too far ahead but I’ll keep working hard here.”