MICHAEL LAWRENCE is facing a race against time to be fit for the start of Super League XVII.
The 21-year-old Giants centre’s right wrist is now out of pot following major ligament surgery.
The former Newsome Panthers junior, pictured, knows it’s still going to be another month before he can re-join the full squad for pre-season training ahead of the 2012 opener at Wigan Warriors on Sunday, February 5.
But after spending two months with his arm in a cast, the explosive three-quarter now feels there’s some light at the end of what has at times been a fairly dark tunnel.
“These last two months have been pretty tough, I have to admit it,” revealed Lawrence.
“I think it really hits you when you’re having to do training on your own while the bulk of the squad are working together.
“That’s when you really feel out of it.
“But having now had the cast off, especially in time for Christmas, I feel a lot better.
“Since the surgery, I’ve been very restricted in what I can do, but now I can do a lot more work and can start to build up the strength in my wrist again.
“I’ve been given a return date of the first week of February, which means it could be touch and go for the first game of the season at Wigan.
“But if I can shave a bit of time off that, and even push to play in the final pre-season game at Halifax (on Sunday, January 29), I’d like to think I’d be in with a shout.
“This at least gives me something to work towards, which is a massive positive.”
Although Lawrence has found his rehabilitation work tough, he’s known for some time he’d need surgery.
He suffered the injury during the 28-16 defeat at minor champions Warrington Wolves in July, and had been in considerable pain ever since.
And he discovered the week play-offs got under way that he’d have no other choice but go under the knife to repair the damage.
“When I first picked up the injury, it looked as if it was a sprain,” he added.
“I couldn’t bend my hand at all, and the only way I could play was by having pain-killing injections, which is the sort of thing the fans never find out about.
“But after about six weeks, it was clear the damage was a bit more serious, because it just wasn’t getting any better at all.
“It was when I went to have it scanned the full extent of the damage came to light.
“I’d ruptured a ligament, it had snapped in two, and it was then a case of having the surgery. There was no other choice.
“I did manage to play in the two play-off games (against Warrington and Leeds), but as soon as they were over I was straight in to get the problem sorted.
“My doctor has told me the wrist is healing well and I an already tell I’ve got the full range of movement back, so now it’s just a case of trying to catch up with the rest of the boys and do everything I can to make it for the Wigan game.”
And Lawrence is confident it won’t take him too long to get back up to full fitness.
“Because of the nature of the injury, I have been able to do a fair amount of work in the gym,” he continued.
“But now it’s a case of stepping it up, which I’m really looking forward to doing.
“I’ve always prided myself on my fitness and enjoy the gym work, so I’m sure I’ll be in good shape by the start of the season.
“And knowing I’ll be going back out on the field with no pain is a fantastic thought.”