Payten confident of grand final comeback - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Payten confident of grand final comeback

By Ben Horne 23/09/2010 06:45:09 PM Comments (0)

Injured Wests Tigers forward Todd Payten will seek advice from 2005 premiership team-mate Pat Richards as part of his audacious bid to be fit for the NRL grand final.

Payten's season appeared over after suffering ligament damage to his right ankle at training on Wednesday, but positive scans have revealed he's a chance should the Tigers get past St George Illawarra in Saturday night's preliminary final.

Back in the Tigers' only premiership season in `05, flying winger Richards suffered a severe ankle injury at a similar time and raced the clock in a moon boot to be fit for the big one.

Payten suffered the heartbreaking injury when he stood on a mesh bag filled with tennis and golf balls, but was relieved to be told he hadn't done any structural damage and there was hope of a comeback.

As well as feeding off Richards, the 247-game forward also has his own experience of quick recovery - Payten tore his hamstring the Tuesday before the `05 decider, but remarkably made it onto the field for the night of his life.

"If we make the grand final, I'll be doing everything in my power to make sure I'm fit," Payten told AAP.

"The first three or four days are pretty crucial and I've been looking after it and doing all the right things so fingers crossed.

"Patty Richards did something pretty similar in `05 and I tore my hamstring on the Tuesday before the grand final so we spent most of that week in the hyperbaric chamber together and going to and from physio sessions.

"I've got a couple of text messages from Pat but I'll give him a call tonight and see what other tips he can give me."

Coach Tim Sheens is leaning towards giving evergreen prop John Skandalis a call-up this week, and Payten is confident the Tigers can do the job against the Dragons in his absence.

"I don't know if it was shock, but I just didn't really believe it yesterday," said Payten, who is also anxiously waiting on his partner Julie to give birth.

"If we win or we don't win, it's going to heal pretty quickly so I'm just doing everything right and being pretty prudent with my recovery so I'm a chance of next week."

Coach Sheens said the Tigers needed to move on from the disappointment of losing Payten for Saturday, and admitted Skandalis' experience would probably get him the nod ahead of younger candidates.

The 34-year-old Skandalis retired from professional football two years ago but, despite not being part of the Tigers top 25 over the past two seasons, has still kept fit and played 19 matches.

Skandalis injured his buttocks in the round-25 win over Melbourne and was expected to miss the rest of the season, but it seems the evergreen prop will receive yet another call-up and a chance at a second premiership.

"The side will get on without (Payten) ... but he's a leader amongst the forwards so the younger guys will have to step up," Sheens said.

"I can't get rid of the guy (Skandalis). He's the sort of guy you know you can rely on in the trenches, so in a game like this, there's no doubt we're leaning there, it's just a matter of whether he's quite fit enough."

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