Wigan Warriors exclusive: Ethan Havard on Grand Final injury, why he has no regrets and ‘hunger’ to come back stronger

Ross Heppenstall
Ethan Havard Wigan Warriors Alamy

Ethan Havard in action for Wigan Warriors in the 2023 Super League Grand Final - Alamy

Ethan Havard has revealed he will miss next month’s World Club Challenge against Penrith Panthers as he recovers from a serious hamstring injury.

The Wigan Warriors prop, rated as one of the best young forwards in Super League, lasted just 10 minutes after coming off the bench in last season’s Grand Final win over Catalans Dragons.

He had not played since injuring a hamstring in a defeat at Wakefield Trinity on July 7, and the gamble to return at Old Trafford backfired.

The 23-year-old suffered a Grade 4 tear to his left hamstring in the latest cruel injury setback to a hugely promising career.

He has previously been sidelined by ankle, lower back and elbow injuries, so is not unaccustomed to treading the gruelling road to recovery.

Wigan Warriors prop Ethan Havard on Super League Grand Final injury and why he has no regrets over ‘risked’ return

Ethan Havard Wigan Warriors Grand Final Alamy Wigan prop Ethan Havard on the charge in the 2023 Grand Final – Alamy

“It was a pretty big risk to play in the Grand Final,” Havard told Love Rugby League at Wigan’s pre-season media day on Monday.

“It was painful when it happened and I knew it had gone straight away. But I don’t regret playing, because those opportunities don’t come around very often – I might never get the chance to play in a Grand Final again.

“Of course I’m hoping to do it again and do it properly next time. I won’t be fit for the start of the season or the World Club Challenge – that’s going to be hard to watch – and have not really put a date on my return.

“Whenever I’m fit, I’m fit, but I’m back running now. I can’t injure that hamstring and go through what I did again, because it’s a long career and I need to do what’s best for my body.

“Yes it’s difficult watching the lads training hard and not being part of it, but I need to sort this first. I’ve had another operation on it and to be fair it’s going well.”

Matt Peet’s men went on to lift the Super League trophy, but for Havard it was a night of mixed emotions after such a premature, painful exit.

“It was a very empty feeling,” he said.

“I wanted to help the team more and had put a lot of team into getting back fit. I spent up to three hours in a hyperbaric chamber pretty much every day for nine weeks leading up to the Grand Final.

“I nailed my rehab and it was a risk to play, but was something I glad that I did. It was a proud moment to be a part of a group who won a Grand Final but, like I said, I’d like to do it better next time.”

Havard talks earning admirers aplenty prior to injury blow

Havard is said to have admirers in the NRL and Sky Sports pundit Jon Wilkin is certainly a fan.

When Wigan survived the early dismissal of Kaide Ellis to beat Warrington Wolves in the Challenge Cup last June, Havard produced a barnstorming display up front.

Wilkin told Love Rugby League shortly before last season’s Grand Final: “Havard single-handedly dismantled Sam Kasiano, Paul Vaughan and Daryl Clark in one of the best displays from a front-rower that I’ve ever seen.”

Havard remembered: “I came back from injury there, having done my elbow, and after Kaide went off it was a bit of a challenge for us middles.

“But we stuck together and that gave us a lot of confidence going into the back end of the season. It wasn’t just me who had a good game that day – everyone did.”

England young gun keen to keep improving: ‘I’m not happy with what I’ve done – I’m just hungry to do better’

Ethan Havard, England
Ethan Havard crossing for a try on his England debut against France in 2023 – Alamy

Havard’s ability has seen him represent England Academy and England Knights before he won his first senior cap against France in last April’s 64-0 win at Warrington.

The boyhood Wigan fan, who scored a try, said: “It was a young England team, but good to get the experience and a proud day for me.

“I scored right in front of my family as well so it was a good moment for them and a good moment for me. But I think I’ve got a lot more to give. I’ve had some injuries which have stunted where I could be at.

“I’m not happy with what I’ve done – I’m just hungry to do better.”

He has been tipped to make the switch to the NRL one day and admitted: “The lifestyle and the competition itself is something which is attractive to me.

“But I love being at Wigan and right now my only focus is on getting back fit. When I do get back on the field, I’ll be determined to enjoy it and stay on the field.”

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