Luke Gale is still hoping to play a part in Castleford Tigers’ semi-final with St Helens, but admitted he will not know if he is playing until about 24 hours before the game.
The England scrum-half was told by a medical specialist that it would be three weeks before he could get back to playing after undergoing an appendix operation, but Thursday’s match comes just 16 days on so it will be ahead of schedule if he takes his place in the Tigers line-up.
Gale said: “The recovery’s going well and I’m progressing day by day and looking forward to hopefully joining the boys on the field again this year.
“I hope I can play (against St Helens), but it’s a case of taking each day as it comes.
“I’ll do a late fitness test on Wednesday and hopefully I’ll get the green light to play.
“I’ve not trained too much to be honest. I’ve been doing my own thing and pushing it day by day. It’s a steady progression. I haven’t ramped it up yet, but hopefully I get the go-ahead.
“I think it’s down to myself. If I’m 100 per cent and I won’t let the boys down, I’ll play.
“It’s quite a common thing, isn’t it? It’ll be two weeks and two days on the day of the game since it happened but we’re all different as individuals. All I can do is play things day by day.
“I’m probably half a kilo down, the weight and everything like that is fine. It’s all good in that regard.
“I’ve not thought about it but if I’m ready to play, there’ll be no messing about. I don’t think the bench is an option, I’ll be chucked straight in.”
Gale said the operation had gone as well as it could.
He explained: “Before they went in, they didn’t know how it would go, but it came out best-case scenario.
“It all went to plan and they said three weeks, did the doctors, but in rugby league we tend not to listen to doctors!
“It all went well, the appendix is removed and I’m feeling fit and healthy again.
“It was ridiculous, the pain. It steadily got worse through the day on the Monday and I rang the physio and told him what it was, and he prescribed me some Gaviscon!”
On what happened on the day he discovered his illness, Gale said: “The pain was tough, they rang 111 and I was hooked up to a drip.
“I saw the doctor straight away and she said I’d need an operation on the night and it was a real shock.
“I didn’t have a clue, but she was pressing on my stomach, doing some tests and she said my season would be over and I wouldn’t be going to Australia for the World Cup.
“I remember laying on the bed for about two hours after she told me thinking everything I’d done this year had all come to an end.
“Thankfully I got a second opinion! It was hard to take for that two hours, though!”
Gale has urged his team-mates to take their chance of glory when they take to the field against St Helens.
He added: “Saints are a good side and are playing well. They were outstanding against us the last time they came to Cas and defended real well.
“It’s going to be two good sides and I’m looking forward to it.
“It’s been a good season and we don’t want it to end here, we want to go on to Old Trafford.
“Everything we’ve done this year comes down to Thursday night. It will be a high pressure game, the boys know that, but it’s one we are looking forward to.”