Leeds Rhinos (Super League outright 8/1) head coach Richard Agar says he will look after Jack Walker as the full-back prepares to return to action for the start of the 2022 season.
The 22-year-old burst onto the screen as a teenager in 2017 and was Leeds’ first choice full-back for when they won the Grand Final in the same year, defeating Castleford Tigers 24-6 at Old Trafford.
However, things have been more difficult for the Yorkshireman since after several injury problems.
Last season, he was only fit enough to feature minimally with Richie Myler playing in the full-back position.
Walker has had to contend with foot problems and a hamstring strain means he will miss the traditional Boxing Day friendly match against Wakefield Trinity.
Agar is confident he will be fit to return for their first Super League match of the season against Warrington (Match betting – Leeds 11/10, draw 22/1, Warrington 8/11) on February 12 but stresses they must look after him after what has been a very challenging period.
He said: “We’ve had to be careful with Jack. He’s had a couple of minor hamstring strains and that’s because he’s been inactive for a long, long time.
“He’s been off his feet and had an injury to his foot which, from a mild mechanical perspective, has probably changed the way he runs a little bit.
“We think Jack will be good to go and fighting for a place in round one.
“Having Jack back fit and available will be like having a new signing for us this season. That’s something we have said internally as well.”
Leeds will be aiming to go better than the fifth place they achieved last season as they reached the semi-finals before losing to eventual winners St Helens.