St Helens’ Alex Walmsley targets Grand Final after broken neck

England prop Alex Walmsley has set himself the target of helping St Helens win the Grand Final after making his return to training this week.

The 28-year-old has been out of action since March when he fractured a bone in his neck during a 30-12 win over Warrington Wolves.

Walmsley says his surgeon initially ruled him out for the rest of the season but his early return to training has prompted plans for the prop to make his return in time to help Saints push for the October Grand Final at Old Trafford.

“Before the operation, the surgeon wrote off my year,” Walmsley told Saints’ website. “That was tough to hear but I tried to look on the bright side; at least he wasn’t writing off my career.

“My rehab has gone well and the surgeon is happy with how well I have responded.

“Now we have set a target of being back this year. A lot will depend on a scan I have at the end of July but hopefully I will get a green light.

“I believe this team has the chance of winning more than one piece of silverware this season and hopefully I will be able to help them at the back end of the year.”

Walmsley sustained the injury attempting a tackle in the visit to the Halliwell Jones Stadium in March but did not realise the severity of the injury for a few days.

“I had shooting pains down my arm and my instincts told me I’d done something bad, but I wasn’t aware how bad,” he explained.

“Nathan Mill, our physio, called me to say I’d broken my neck. He told me not to panic but it was a shock.

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“The stigma of an injury like that sends your mind into overdrive. You think about whether you will ever be able to play again… will you be able to pick up your son… will you be able to walk if the operation goes wrong… all sorts of things.

“It was pretty scary at the time but I began to feel better mentally when the operation was booked in and done.”

Up next for St Helens is next Friday’s visit of Wakefield, the last team to beat them before their nine-match winning streak began April.