MARTIN ASPINWALL is back!
And the Great Britain winger couldn’t be happier.
While his senior colleagues were left smarting after their 18-16 Super League defeat at the hands of Wakefield Trinity Wildcats, the 26-year-old former Wigan ace was reflecting on a highly satisfactory first competitive outing in nine months.
That came in the big 52-12 Reserves triumph over Wakefield and proved beyond doubt Aspinwall had fully recovered from a serious knee injury suffered against Warrington last year which had initially threatened to bring a premature end to his successful playing career.
But now the powerful three-quarter is preparing to make a top-flight return.
“It’s been a long time since I stepped back onto the field, and it felt great!” said Aspinwall, who tore both cruciate ligaments in his right knee.
“The knee had been feeling strong in training, but it was only when I was back playing I was going to know for sure if everything was 100%.
“Fortunately, everything went exactly how I’d hoped. I’m delighted.
“I was obviously pretty nervous before I stepped back onto the pitch, and it probably took me about 15 minutes to get into the game.
“But once I got those first carries and tackles under my belt and everything felt fine, my confidence grew. It was a massive weight off my shoulders.
“As a result, I felt stronger the longer the game went on, and I really enjoyed it.
“With no disrespect to the opposition, it wasn’t the most challenging of games in which to make my return, but I believe it was probably the ideal match to play in as a comeback.
“Hopefully, it won’t be long before I’m able to show what I can do back in Super League, which is something I wasn’t able to say not that long ago.
“When I picked up the injury, I knew it was a bad one, and that was confirmed when I was told I’d done both cruciate ligaments, which is very rare.
“I was told that could keep me out for up to 18 months, but following surgery that was reduced to 12. Thankfully, I’m obviously back in nine.
“It’s been hard work making it back in that time, and it’s only right I pay a big compliment first to physio Gary Slade and then to (Giants rehab man) Greg Brown for helping me get through the tough times.
“Greg, in particular, has gone well beyond the call of duty to help me get back. Even when it’s been his day off he’s been accompanying me to the gym so I can do extra work on the rehab front.
“And it’s great that it’s paid off, because I do feel stronger than I have done for many years. It’s a fantastic feeling.
“I know that when I do get back into the Super League side it’ll probably take me a few weeks to get back up to speed, but I am hopeful I’ll soon be able to show everyone how hard I’ve worked over the past nine months.”
And there’s no doubt Aspinwall’s imminent return will provide the Giants with a major boost.
“Things are obviously not going the way we would like at the moment,” he added.
“The boys seem to be taking one or two wrong options and there seems to be a fair bit of anxiety in their play, something that a win would clearly remedy.
“Hopefully, that will come tomorrow against Halifax, because I would love to come back into a side that’s on a winning roll!”