Recovering from injury for a professional athlete can be as much of a mental challenge as a physical one.
For injured Newcastle Knight, Jack Stockwell, a welcome distraction has come through helping his teammates at training.
He’s channeled his attention and energy, while recovering from two injuries during the pre-season, into providing support and guidance for the squad’s young rookies who have made a transition from the Under 20s to fulltime NRL training.
“It’s been good having the younger guys come through, teaching them and leading them through the drills,” Stockwell said after an on field training session this week.
“It was hard being off those couple of weeks through injury, but since I’ve been back I’ve tried to be a mentor to the younger boys.
“I’m really enjoying it.
“I had a couple of weeks off before Christmas with a few injuries but I started back full training first day back which is good and have had a couple of runs since then and I am feeling good."
In Round 13 last year, Stockwell tore his bicep in a match against the Canberra Raiders, which disappointingly ruled him out for the season.
An intensive rehabilitation program since then has seen the injury heal and he was able to commence pre-season at the beginning of November.
“It’s going really well. I’m still doing my strength work in the gym,” he said.
Just when he thought he was in the clear, in early December he suffered an unusual injury - a cork to his calf that required an operation to drain the blood surrounding the site.
“I did it on the Tuesday and didn’t feel it until the Thursday and then it kind of just flared up and my calf doubled in size and then they had to rush me to hospital,” he explained.
“It happened all so quickly.”
Surgery went well and the 23-year-old was back on his feet shortly after.
“It’s been good since I’ve come back. As soon as I did the surgery, it’s been fine ever since,” he said.
“I haven’t felt it since I’ve been back training. I have a nice little scar and that’s it.
"I started back full contact this week. It’s been feeling good and the last couple of days has been putting it through its paces.
“It’s been good to get back with all the boys.”
Now training is back in full swing, he’s keen to absorb everything newly appointed coach Nathan Brown is imparting on the players.
“He really knows his stuff and I’m excited to keep going with these next few weeks and learn as much as I can before those first few games come around,” he added.
Stockwell says the biggest area of progress he’s seen made during the pre-season, overall, has been the team’s effort in defence.
“We’ve been focusing a lot on our defence and it’s really coming along each session,” he said.
“The boys are really knuckling down and getting things sorted.
“It’s been awesome to see.”