Looks like Liddle’s time is here again!
Wests Tigers hooker Jacob Liddle is on the verge of a return
Liddle has been to hell and he is almost back.
Next week, there is every chance he will be named in the Tigers team to take on Canterbury at Bankwest Stadium, heralding a 12-month journey to overcome a devastating knee injury. Before that, it was a pair of shoulder surgeries. All told, his battered body has cost him the best part of three years.
He has drawn strength from a number of sources, among them Marshall and Lawrence, who overcame their own injury issues to forge memorable careers.
Marshall struggled with shoulder problems for years. while Lawrence’s face caved in when he collided with a teammate at training, the damage so confronting Marshall this week suggested he thought his teammate could die. Both have overcome insurmountable hurdles to touch greatness and Liddle has been inspired.
“A few boys around the club have been great,” he said. “Boys like Chris Lawrence — playing his 250th game this week — he has been through hell. He has been alongside me. I have talked to him about how he got through it. Boys like Benji, having seven shoulder surgeries. All those boys have been through it.
“It is good to have them at training. They went through just as bad, worse even.”
Liddle tries not to think too deeply about what is ahead. He catches himself sometimes as he ponders the thought of pulling on a Tigers jersey and running out before the club’s faithful.
That day is fast approaching, his cause inadvertently given a helping hand when Harry Grant suffered a knee problem that will sideline him for a month.
“He is a great kid,” said Liddle, who at 23 is only a year older than Grant. “He has been good to have around the club. He has been killing it. I have been watching his game and try to pick up things when I can, like I do with other hookers like Cameron Smith.”
“We do some extras after training sometimes. He has been good to have around.”
That said, Liddle’s availability comes at an opportune time for the club. Grant was setting the competition alight and while Moses Mbye will wear the No 9 jersey this weekend, Liddle is expected to play a role of some sort in coming weeks.
“You face these challenges and the world works in funny ways,” he said. “What you have been given you have to live with, overcome it and hopefully I am a stronger player because of it.
“The game we play is a full-contact sport. Injuries happen.
“But I will get through it.”
His attitude is testament to the work he has put in on the mental side of the game. His mind has been exercised as much as his body in his absence. A tome about the All Blacks has resonated more than any other. Asked what struck him, he said: “Training every day with a positive mindset and giving 100 per cent.”
He has had support from a tight-knit family and girlfriend Caitlin. “All I want to do is play the season,” he said. “I still love the sport. I want to play until I am 35. That is the dream.”