EAMON O’Carroll is hoping to have finally put his injury nightmare behind him as he aims to make a massive impression in 2011.
The Warriors prop has missed a huge chunk of each of the last two seasons with foot and groin problems, and was forced to watch his team-mates pick up last year’s Super League title from the sidelines.
However, O’Carroll is determined to make up for lost time, and admits the presence of Pat Richards in the treatment room has given him extra incentive to get back to full fitness.
“I’ve been training with Pat and it’s good to have a training partner in the gym,” he told the Evening Post.
“It does get a bit tiring training on your own, but Pat pushes himself hard and we’ve got a competition now about who can get the biggest biceps!
“We’re basically doing weights, boxing and biking. And if I’m not fit for the start of the season, I’ll see if Audley Harrison is free!
“Seriously, I’m very close now, although it’s the type of injury which is tough to put a time scale on.
“I’m just concentrating on getting it right for the start of the season, which is still a while off, but they can work me hard without risking aggravating the injury by rushing me back.”
O’Carroll’s latest injury, a groin strain, was similar to the one that hampered team-mate Paul Deacon last term.
And the way the veteran half-back recovered to play some quality rugby towards the end of the year has given O’Carroll all the incentive he needs.
“It’s a fresh start and a clean slate for me,” the 23-year-old remarked.
“Hopefully that’s my share of injuries done with now and I can string some games together.
“It was disappointing last year especially with the season we had, but it’s made me more hungry to succeed and play my part next year.
“The last thing I want to do is watch the lads lift another trophy while I’m in the stands, but that’s up to me to work hard and hopefully that’ll show on the field.”
O’Carroll says he’s ‘hopeful’ of being fit enough to play a part in some of the pre-season friendlies, although he won’t let his heart rule his head.
“I’ve been out a long time and there’s no need to rush it,” he added.
The 23-year-old also revealed he and the rest of the English boys have had an extra spring in their step this week as a result of the Ashes goings-on Down Under.
“Pat’s terrible for it!” O’Carroll laughed. “As soon as the Aussies made a good start, he gave it to all the English lads. But then when the Aussies started doing badly, he said he was Irish!”
l Wigan’s Super League clash against Hull KR at the DW has been put back 72 hours to Monday, May 30 to accommodate Sky TV.
l Friday’s second Test between the England Academy and the Australian Schoolboys has been switched to Leigh Sports Village (7.30pm).
The game, which will feature half a dozen Wiganers, was scheduled for Castleford but the surface at the Jungle was deemed unplayable.
Admission is pay on the day and costs £3 adults and £2 concessions.