St Helens winger vows to come back stronger from ACL injury; Leah Burke already has ‘targets to hit’

Sebastian Sternik
Leah Burke St Helens women Alamy

Leah Burke celebrates a try with St Helens team-mate Jodie Cunningham

St Helens winger Leah Burke has vowed to come back stronger after going through ACL surgery.

The England international tore her anterior cruciate ligament just five minutes into a Betfred Women’s Super League match against Wigan back on June 11.

Burke, who was also celebrating her 25th birthday on that same day, faces between nine to 12 months on the sidelines.

“I’m just taking it as it comes, I’ve not really thought about it long-term,” the winger told Love Rugby League. “Taking each day as it comes and working hard to get back.

“With ACL’s the aim is for anywhere between nine to 12 months. You can’t really put a date on it.

“I’m quite a positive person as it is. It’s tough watching from the sidelines but it’s also good to watch the girls.

“I’ve got targets to hit already. Having them each week, it keeps me motivated to make sure I reach them and put myself in the best possible position to come back stronger.”

The St Helens star was full of praise for the medical support she received from the club since suffering the injury.

She said: “They have been so good with the amount of support I’ve had already.

“From the time I’ve had the scan to seeing the specialist, the medical cover they’ve given us at the club is exceptional. It’s better than anything I could’ve asked for.

“With the England physio and St Helens physio working hand in hand all the way through it, it’s just me and the targets each week.

“I might not be running right now but there’s so many things I can do to make the knee better. We’re doing exercises like that. Being in the gym and just working hard to get better and stronger.”

Leah Burke taking inspiration from team-mate Jodie Cunningham

Burke is taking inspiration from team-mate Jodie Cunningham who tore her ACL back in 2017.

Despite being given a five per cent chance of making the 2017 World Cup by medical professionals, Cunningham was able to defy the odds and participate in the tournament.

“I’ve seen a lot of players and a lot of people who have done their ACL before and you can see their struggles,” said Burke.

“But you can also see the positives that come out of it, a lot of people come out of it stronger.

“Jodie did her ACL back in 2017, so she’s been very supportive and has given me advice.

“She did it just before the World Cup and ended up smashing it so there’s lots of positives that can come out of it.

“There will be some tough days but it’s important to get through them and learn from them.”

When asked whether she will keep a close eye on her replacement in the team, Burke said: “I think we’ve got a good squad and there’s a few girls who can easily take that position.

“I said to them this is their opportunity to show what they can do. They need to take it and run with it.”

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