Jimmy Watson may know more on Friday about how long he will be sidelined by his latest injury.
The fullback, who had returned to action much earlier than anticipated after sustaining a knee injury in the pre-season game against Barrow, was back in top form in the Betfred League 1 victory over Rochdale Hornets at the beginning of June and, keen to play his part in the Parksiders’ promotion bid – and earn a new contact in 2022 – was determined to continue in the same vein in last Saturday’s match at London Skolars.
But the 29-year-old’s involvement in the fixture, which Hunslet won 62-10, was short-lived.
Watson, who had celebrated the birth of son Lomax the previous day, recalls: “I was in my usual spot, under the posts, when the Skolars kicked off. The ball was falling a bit short and I thought `I’d better go for this’ and set off quick to collect it. But I just went down, with no one near me. I felt like I’d been shot – I felt a snap in my ankle, I thought I’d fallen over something, but there was nothing, and no one, there.
“I knew something was very wrong and shouted for the medics. The Skolars’ doctor, who was great, came on, cut my sock off and said that I’d ruptured my Achilles and that I needed to get to hospital.
“I thought straight away `this is bad’ and thought about my family back home. It got the better of me to be honest, I was very emotional. I was devastated, I couldn’t believe it.
“I’d had a very good pre-season and I’d been playing well in our friendlies before picked up a leg injury against Barrow from which I’d made a faster recovery than had been expected, thanks largely to the club, who helped fund treatment. I can’t thank them enough for that and I’d wanted to repay them, and now this has happened.”
Watson continues: “They got me a taxi to the hospital – I think it was the Middlesex – and my teammate Kiedan Hartley came with me. I asked the doctors there if it could be dealt with quickly as I didn’t want to be stuck down in London. I really did need to be back home with Charlene, our five-year old daughter Layla and Lomax.
“They said they’d be as quick as they could but I knew it would be a while and when our coach, Gary Thornton, rang to ask how it was going I told him the situation and he said that our chairman Kenny Sykes and director Peter Jarvis, who had travelled down by car, would come and get me and take me to Pinderfields hospital in Wakefield.
“Both are ex-players so it was good to spend time with them travelling back north; Jarvo in particular is full of anecdotes and stories, as everyone knows.
“It was around midnight when we got to Pinderfields and there was only one doctor on duty, who put a pot on me, up to the knee.
“Our fantastic captain, Duane Straugheir, not only picked me up from the hospital at 3.00am; he bought me a McDonalds (other burger chains are available!) on the way home, to get some sustenance into me.”
“I’m very grateful to our coaches and my teammates, who have rallied round and sent me loads of messages,” adds Watson, “and I have to pay tribute to Hunslet’s doctor, Ben Haughton. Ben’s looked after my various injuries superbly for quite a few years now and he’s being terrific with this one, which is a mystery. I’ve asked myself many times how and why it happened. Maybe I just set off too quickly for the ball, but I’d done all the warmups and proper preparations. Perhaps I’ve overcompensated for the previous injury, or possibly it’s something to do with the Skolars’ artificial pitch. The truth is I just don’t know, maybe it’s just one of those things that happen in Rugby League.
“But I’ll be down shouting on the lads at the South Leeds Stadium as I recover – Hunslet Rugby League club gets in your blood.”
A saving grace is that Jimmy Watson is able to spend more time with his family at a particularly special time. “Layla is absolutely thrilled to have a younger brother,” he beams. “She’s over the moon with Lomax, in fact she’s obsessed with him. When I need nappies or wipes out of the drawer she’s there straight away.
“The missus has now got three kids, including me, to look after. And I do like my cups of tea!”