Leeds Rhinos centre missed almost a year with broken leg but is now ready to face St Helens
Image: Craig Hawkhead/News Images)
This time last year, Harry Newman was reeling from a devastating broken leg that would shatter his Wembley and play-off dreams.
Fast forward 12 months and the Leeds Rhinos centre stands one win from Old Trafford having re-established himself as one of the most exciting players in Super League.
Newman’s injury saw him miss the Challenge Cup final win over Salford and the Rhinos’ play-off campaign, before returning to action this July. The 21-year-old was one of the stand-out performers in Thursday’s gritty 8-0 win at Wigan, and has now put his lay-off nightmare behind him ahead of Friday’s showdown with St Helens.
Newman explained: “It was tough – I was out for 10, 11 months. It was 12 months to the day last Friday that I did it – the day before and it would have been a year exactly to when we played Wigan.
“There are definitely some tough days along the way. It goes through your mind that you might never play again, or you might not play as well as you did before, or become the player you want to be in the future.
“I got through those days really well, tried to move onto the next day and focus quickly on what I needed to achieve step-by-step. That helped massively and when I got out on the field, it was just getting my confidence back up in my leg and taking the impact again.”
Newman was already in England coach Shaun Wane’s plans before the injury last year and is seen as a potential World Cup starter in 2022. But for now all his focus is on St Helens – who brushed the Rhinos aside 40-6 earlier this month.
Newman added: “That result a few weeks ago was a tough one to take but we had nowhere near our full strength side out on that day. We know we’re capable of a lot better.
“When it gets to this time of the year, one game away from the big one, that result doesn’t really matter – it’s all about Friday night.
“Our start this week is massive – we know they will come out all guns blazing and they’re used to playing in these types of games. Handling their big fellas is important but we’ve got all our big fellas back – I’m sure it’ll be a great contest.
“We’ve suffered quite a bit this year with Covid and injuries, but to get to this point of the year and be one game off the Grand Final, credit goes to the group and staff here. It’s the biggest game so far in my career, I’m up for the challenge and so are the team.”