Castleford Tigers forward Larne Pattrick admits his journey back to full fitness has been mentally challenging following his return to action last week after a nine-month injury layoff.
The 28-year-old has struggled with a wrist problem which needed two major operations but the former Huddersfield man returned off the bench at last in Sunday’s Challenge Cup quarter-final defeat at Hull.
And he admitted he questioned his own mental and physical toughness before eventually winning his battle to return to fitness last weekend.
He said: “It’s been a tough battle mentally. I lost a bit of faith in my body and it did challenge me finding out the operation had failed in February and having to have it all re-done having worked so hard.
“But it’s part and parcel of life I suppose. It’s certainly made me stronger mentally and appreciate other things in life really and I’m just grateful to be back playing.”
However, now back playing, Patrick is hopeful the timing of his return will provide a timely mid-season boost for both himself and Tigers coach Daryl Powell on the run-in to the play-offs.
He said: “I feel like rest of my body has benefitted massively from this break. I do feel mentally fresher, too, now I know I’m fit so hopefully I can give us that extra boost when the time is needed.
“Obviously players start to creak around about now as it’s a long, long season and me having only played one game hopefully it will boost us.”
And after being knocked out of the Challenge Cup, Patrick has already identified Friday’s clash with Leeds as “massive” for the Tigers as they look to cement their six-point lead at the Super League summit.
He said: “It is a massive game. It’s a real statement game for us.
“We need to bounce back with a massive win. Leeds are looking to close that gap on us so both playing for a lot this week.”