Hull forward Joe Cator said he was proud to make his return to the field in a pre-season win at Sheffield after spending almost a year and a half on the sidelines.
The 24-year-old helped the Black and Whites edge past Championship side Sheffield 22-20 in a pre-season friendly at the Olympic Legacy Park.
Cator came through the game unscathed following almost a year and a half out. He ruptured his Achilles twice.
The loose forward believes he has become stronger physically and mentally for the traumatic experience.
Cator said: “It’s 17 months since I walked off that pitch fit and injury-free, so that was a real box-tick for me today.
“It’s been a long 17 months with 40 minutes in the middle of that. I want to play it down, but in the back of my mind I’m proud of myself. It’s been a long time and it did mean a lot to me to get on the field.
“I think if you go through anything like that it makes you a better person; and mentally it does make me stronger. If I can get through that and get back to playing, it gives me a lot of confidence.”
Tony Smith happy to see Joe Cator pull through fine
Smith praised the highly-rated forward, appearing from the bench just before the half-time break.
Smith said: “Joe handled it really well and it was great to see him come through it unscathed.
“He is on top of things and he has been confident for a while, but it is another thing going out on the pitch and doing it all again.”
Smith marked the start of his tenure as Hull head coach with a hard-fought win at Sheffield. He gave new Australian recruits Tex Hoy and Jake Clifford a chance to impress.
Smith added: “We’re going in a bit under-cooked. I know some teams started before us and have probably done some harder stuff than us.
“I’m just wary of being over-cooked. You can put the cake back in the oven if it isn’t quite cooked, and we’re probably not cooked enough yet, but we’ve still got a month to go.”
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