Carnegie’s Barker hopes to put 9 months injury nightmare behind him
Young Leeds Carnegie centre Joe Barker is hoping to put a nine month injury nightmare behind him this weekend as he returns to the field for Otley’s 2nd XV.
The former QEGS pupil broke into the first team last season at Headingley Carnegie and made 15 appearances but the last one came as a replacement against Bedford at the end of January.
An operation on a hernia injury was not successful and it has taken nearly nine months to resolve the problem fully. However, the 21-year-old is now looking to put his injury worries behind him. He commented, "I am really looking forward to getting back on the field now and playing rugby again. It has been a nightmare for the last few months because at times it has seemed like there has been no end in sight. If I had been told at the start that I would be out for nine months, I could have got my head around that and worked towards an end point but because of the various set backs, every time I made good progress, I had to start again.
"I think the experience will stand me in good stead in the long run. Injuries are part and parcel of being a professional rugby player and you have to deal with them. I had the experience of playing in the first team last year so now hopefully I can build on that. First and foremost, I just want to get back out there and start playing again. Hopefully I can prove my worth and get a shot in the squad, perhaps in the British & Irish Cup first of all, and then press for a return to the league squad. It will be tough because we have got some great competition in the back line now but that is my goal," added Barker.
The Wakefield born centre, who originally played for Sandal before joining the Carnegie Academy in 2004, praised the support of the club’s medical staff during the dark days of his injury lay off. He added, "Our physio Stephen Humphries has been brilliant with me. We have shared the low points and he has supported me all the way. He went with me to see the consultants over in Manchester and told me what I needed to do to get back on the pitch. As a player you put your trust in the medical guys and you have to learn to do what they say, they are the experts, and Stephen has done a great job with me."