Named on the bench for their clash against the Gold Coast Titans, nib Newcastle Knights forward Joe Wardle said he’s looking forward to being back in the NRL squad after an ankle injury kept him out of Round 8.
“I’ll travel up with the boys in a couple of days, hopefully get through captain’s run alright and I get picked for the squad,” added Wardle.
“I damaged the ankle a little bit last week so I’ll have to be a bit smart with it, feels good and hopefully I’ll get out there with the boys.”
With four NRL games now under his belt the Englishman admits the transition from the English Super League has been a lot harder than first thought.
“To be honest, I didn’t think it would be as hard. Just how quick the game is, is a massive thing,” Wardle explained.
“You need to be at the peak of your fitness and me not having the best of pre-season, I do feel the effects in the game.
“I am still trying to constantly improve that each week doing little bit extras so hopefully I’ll get there the next couple of weeks, fingers crossed.”
Averaging 50 minutes, Wardle said his time on the field is increasing.
“Slowly my minutes are getting better each week,” said the Knights forward.
“My inputs into the game are getting a lot better, so slowly I am getting there.
“It is going to take a while but I’ll keep working on things and see how it goes.
“I’m just working on what I can do at the moment, obviously things aren’t the perfect scenario for me, I would have liked to be have been here with a full pre-season under my belt but just a bonus playing as much as I can and learning as much as I can.
“Hopefully next year I can kick on fully.”
He admits losing talented forward Mitch Barnett to injury is a big loss to the side.
“He does a massive amount of work for us so we’re going to be struggling to replace him,” Wardle maintained.
“I suppose that is the test for the rest of the pack, everyone needs to step up now and we are desperate to get that win.
“We need a bit of belief around the place again because it is not a nice thing losing every week.
“We are working hard, the effort is there, we just need to be smart with what we’re doing as well.”
Meanwhile, the 25-year-old says his family have settled in well from their move across the other side of the world.
“It is a lovely place to be, being by the beaches,” Wardle smiled.
“I am enjoying it; all the lads have made me feel welcome and I look forward to settling here for a long time.”
Although sometimes a struggle, Wardle believes it was well worth the decision to make the move.
“I won’t lie, it is a big struggle,” laughed Wardle.
“I have got young kids so taking them away from grandma and grandparents, I think they’ve really found it hard as well not being able to go and speak to them every day or just pop round and see grandma.
“But all the lads and the staff here have made it pretty easy to settle in and hopefully I can be here for a while.”
The Knights travel to the Gold Coast on Friday to take on the Gold Coast Titans at Cbus Super Stadium this Saturday.