HALIFAX forward Sam Barlow has said he is still around a stone over his ideal playing weight as his comeback from a three-month lay off gathers pace.
Barlow had surgery on his foot in November, effectively ruling him out Fax’s entire pre-season training programme.
And while the former Widnes and Sheffield player returned to boss Karl Harrison’s first team for the 24-18 win at York last weekend - turning in a 20 minute cameo that bridged the half time break - he knows he has work to do if he wants to cement a place in the club’s top side.
“I am carrying a bit more than I normally do,” said Barlow, who has also featured twice for Fax’s under 23s in recent weeks.
“I am probably about a stone over what I was and although I feel a lot stronger I have lost some of my agility.
“Match fitness should get it off, but that’s why I only played 20 minutes or so at York, just easing back into it.
“As soon as that goes, I’ll be back firing.
“Sunday was my first hit out and to be fair, when all the other lads starting playing in December, they were carrying a bit extra too.
“Personally, it was just good to be back and finally get in there after those 23s games.”
And while Fax never really asserted their dominance over Chris Thorman’s City Knights, losing 12-0 and 18-12 leads before hooker Sean Penkywicz’s last-second matchwinner, Barlow - who seems certain to feature against amateurs Myton in the Challenge Cup on Sunday - was keen to emphasise the positives.
“It was a great win in the end, they are a decent team and it’s a hard pitch to play on,” he said.
“It was just good that we had Penky there at the end to pull us out in that last minute.
“I think the sign of a good team is when you don’t play that well, but still come up with the win.
“We made a lot of breaks, but we weren’t as effective with the ball as we normally are.
“They probably took something out of us in that second half because we got through a lot of defence.
“A win’s a win though and everyone is going to want to beat us.”