Battling on through the bumps and bruises is part of professional rugby league, but Wakefield Trinity’s James Batchelor has revealed how he played in two games after rupturing ligaments in an ankle.
The 21-year-old second-rower returned in the Coral Challenge Cup win over Widnes Vikings a week ago and has been named in Trinity’s initial 19-man squad for Saturday’s Betfred Super League fixture at London Broncos.
Batchelor had no idea he was facing a long lay-off when he felt pain in the ankle during the win at Leeds Rhinos in February.
He recalled: “I ruptured the syndesmosis ligament in my ankle, against Leeds.
“I finished that game and played against Hull KR, then got the scan the day after Hull KR and that said it was completely ruptured, which was a bit of a surprise because I was fully expecting to play the week after against Hull as well.
“It didn’t feel too bad, but I had to have the operation.
“I had a bursa [sac of fluid] that needed taking out of my knee as well so they did them both at the same time – I got a two-for-one deal!
“I am back quicker than expected so that’s a positive.
“It has been a while, I am not a great watcher so I have been frustrated watching the games every week and it is really nice to be back.”
Batchelor came through last week’s game unscathed. He confirmed: “I am really happy with that, the first few carries I just had to get used to landing on the knee again, but there was nothing at all, which was brilliant.
“It was frustrating when I got the injury four or five games into the season because I wanted to try and nail down that second-row spot, but I am back in it now and, hopefully, I’ll get some more minutes [tomorrow] and really kick on for the rest of the season.”
Having battled through a huge run of injuries and climbed to third in the table, Trinity face a different sort of challenge on Saturday.
They were stunned 42-24 at London in round one and though Broncos are bottom of the table, Batchelor insisted: “No one knows better than us how tough it’s going to be going down there.
“We have learned our lesson so we’ve just got to get our heads around it.
“We’ve had another good week in training and we will go down there with the aim of winning.
“We can’t turn up like we did at the start of the season or the same thing will happen. They are in most games and they are not a team that’s going to roll over. Even in the Million Pound Game last year they were massive underdogs agianst Toronto, but they came away with a win.
“We know it is going to be tough and they are absolutely going to be up for it on their own turf. We’ve got to get our heads around it and really get up for it as well.”
Going into games as favourites is a new experience for Trinity. Batchelor added: “When I made my debut we had a couple of injuries, but nowhere near as many as we’ve had this year and nobody expected us to get anywhere near teams in games.
“Now we’ve got nine or 10 injuries and we are still favourites. It is nice people are recognising how good we are and how far the club’s come, but it doesn’t really matter if you are favourites or underdogs – it is about the players in the team and how they turn it on on game day. It shows how tough we are as a group and how tight we are. If someone drops out someone is ready to jump back in.
“We have got the quality, we are fighting for everything and it’s showing. Even if we lose, which we don’t want to do, we are taking them close.”