Luke Walsh is in danger of missing the start of the new Super League season but Saints coach Keiron Cunningham is determined not to rush the influential playmaker back into action.
Walsh was a Man of Steel contender after making an impressive start to his career in England but he missed the last two months of the 2014 season with a broken leg and was among a host of key players watching the club’s Grand Final triumph from the sidelines.
The goalkicking Australian scrum-half will miss Sunday’s rematch with Wigan but Cunningham is confident he will be back playing well before the Super League champions take on South Sydney in the World Club Challenge on February 22.
“We’re looking at round one or round two, that was always the target,” Cunningham said. “If he can play at least one game before the World Club Challenge, I’ll be a very happy person.”
Walsh, who still finished the season as Saints’ leading scorer, has recovered from his broken leg but his comeback has been delayed by ankle surgery.
“The leg is completely healed, he just had an issue with his ankle which was grumbling and grumbling,” Cunningham said.
“We couldn’t do the ankle surgery at the same time as the leg surgery so we’ve had to wait for that to get right first and then we did the ankle. Every day is a new challenge and he’s making strides.
“When Luke Walsh takes to the field, it will be like a breath of fresh air for everyone.”
Full-back Jonny Lomax and new captain Jon Wilkin, who also missed Saints’ Grand Final triumph through injury, continue their comebacks in Sunday’s friendly against Wigan.