Fitness first for Hull KR's Liam Salter as he targets February opener
HULL KR centre Liam Salter is determined to return to full fitness for the start of the season after undergoing shoulder surgery in the off-season.
Salter is still a few weeks away from making a full recovery from the reconstruction, but he remains hopeful of featuring in the season opener come February.
The 18-year-old injured his shoulder towards the end of last season.
However, having broken into Craig Sandercock's team, he wasn't willing to step aside, and played the final game with the injury.
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"I hurt my shoulder against Wigan in our final home game of the season, but we had one more game left to play after that," Salter told the Mail.
"I didn't want to lose my place in the team, so I played through the pain against London.
"Thankfully, I didn't need an injection to get through that game, and it didn't feel too bad.
"I had the shoulder dealt with after the season ended, and now its a case of building the strength back up."
Salter was one of the few success stories at MS3 Craven Park last season.
He made his debut in the 20-12 defeat at Catalan in March and finished the season at right centre as Jake Webster was sidelined through injury.
Now entering his second pre-season, Salter feels more comfortable in the first team environment and says pre-season training holds no surprises for him.
"This is my second pre-season and it's good to be back into the routine," he said.
"I feel more confident now I have those Super League games under my belt from last season.
"I know what to expect this year. There are a few other young players here and my advice to them is to work hard and show no fear.
"They have to show they are capable of stepping up.
"I'm still young and I still have to learn my trade."
Salter accepts his number one priority is to get back to full fitness before he can think about the season ahead.
"I am recovering from the shoulder surgery and I need to get fit before thinking about starting the season in the team," Salter said.
"The shoulder is coming on well and I have to take things week by week.
"I should be in full contact training by the time we go to Tenerife just before Christmas for our warm-weather camp.
"Between now and then, it's a lot of running for me.
"Pre-season is a big part of our job and the rewards will be great during the season.
"I had a good season in 2012, which exceeded all my expectations, and I know I am better off for it.
"My only goal now is to get back to full fitness. When I have done that then I can start to think about other goals for the year ahead in Super League."