IF ever Wakefield Trinity’s Liam Finn wondered whether delaying surgery on his broken finger would be worth all the discomfort, a vital victory over Super League leaders St Helens will have given him his answer.
Plenty of players battle on regardless with injuries and, of course, it is commonplace in the sport, a weekly occurrence at all clubs throughout the various competitions.
However, for a half-back especially distribution is crucial so having a badly fractured finger is hardly ideal for someone like Finn, the veteran scrum-half who helped direct Wakefield to the unexpected 24-20 success.
Yet he completed the full 80 minutes of Sunday’s game, his kicking proving the difference as relieved Trinity finally emerged from a five-game losing sequence.
Ireland captain Finn had missed the previous two matches – defeats by just one and two points to Hull FC and Leeds Rhinos respectively – after fracturing the finger in another close loss to former club Castleford Tigers.
But the 34-year-old was keen to return to bolster Chris Chester’s side against the competition’s leading team so turned down the chance to have surgery to correct the problem.
“It is broken at the joint, that’s why it’s a bit more painful,” he explained.
“I can’t bend my finger. But I just had a pain-killing jab.
“The doc puts a ring block in so it can’t move and then straps it to the middle finger. You just get on with it then.
“I had to have my (dislocated)finger put back in against Cas and I assume I did it then. It was fine for that game, but then I went for an X-ray and they found the break.
“I went to see a specialist and he said I needed an operation to sew it all back together.
“I wasn’t going to be playing in the next game anyway so my mentality was I’ll get it fixed up and in a couple of weeks I’ll be good.
“But he said it’s seven or eight weeks’ recovery.”
It was at that point that Finn – who had the best scoring run in the game with 32 successive matches before missing the Easter Monday loss at Hull – decided he could ill-afford to spend so much time out of action.
I want to earn a new deal and I don’t want to be missing for seven or eight games. I wouldn’t during any season. All the operation minimises is the risk of arthritis in the joint when I get older, so I decided not to have it.Wakefield Trinity’s Liam Finn.
“It’s potentially one of the last seasons of my career,” said the former Dewsbury Rams and Featherstone Rovers half-back.
“I want to earn a new deal and I don’t want to be missing for seven or eight games. I wouldn’t during any season. All the operation minimises is the risk of arthritis in the joint when I get older, so I decided not to have it.
“He (the specialist) said it will heal, just a bit differently to if I’d had the operation.
“I’m hoping I’ve not done any damage (on Sunday) and Friday will be three weeks since the injury, which is a decent time for a finger.
“Hopefully it will be a little less painful then.”
Finn kicked four goals from five attempts against Saints, who had lost just once previously all season.
Now in his third season at Belle Vue since joining from Castleford, he is just six points shy of taking his tally for the club to 500.
Finn continued: “You know when you’ve lost five on the bounce you can’t afford to lose any more. Without sounding like losing is acceptable, you can stomach being in the contest and maybe getting edged out by the top teams, because you know you’re a good team as well.
“But on a five-game losing streak it gets a bit desperate.”
Now Wakefield have emerged from their slump, though, it is imperative they continue to rebuild in Friday’s game at Salford Red Devils.
Their opponents picked up a first away victory in 11 months when they won 30-12 at Huddersfield Giants on Sunday to break into the top eight.
However, Wakefield won their opening four games of the season before going on that wretched run so they know they can challenge the best.
Winning at the likes of Salford is key if they are serious about making the top four in 2018.
Trinity narrowly missed out on that last season, but there is plenty of confidence in their ranks that they can reach the semi-finals this time around.
Finn – who is certainly showing enough so far to suggest he should not retire in 2019 – conceded: “What we did against Saints is all pointless if we don’t now back it up at Salford.
“We need to start getting some momentum again and stringing some wins together.
“Salford play some good football as well.
“They like to play it from anywhere and ask plenty of questions.
“They’ll be confident and will offer us a big challenge.”