James Bentley reveals how close he came to a catastrophic injury – but played on

JAMES Bentley needs no reminding at just how close he came to a catastrophic injury similar to the one suffered by Mose Masoe.

It still did not stop him playing on for a few minutes.

Now he is ready to go from fan who sat on the Headingley wall to star after swapping St Helens for hometown club Leeds.

Bentley, then at Saints, was left in agony after being victim of a ‘crusher’ tackle by Catalans’ Sam Kasiano during last season’s Magic Weekend classic.

And a few days later it emerged just how close he came to something that would affect much more than just his rugby league.

The back-rower suffered a ruptured ligament in the T1 and T2 area of his spine at the very top of his back – had it then impinged his spinal cord, it would have hit use of his arms and hands.

“When I did it, it was just a bit sore,” Bentley, who missed Saints’ Grand Final win as a result, recalled. “I tried to play on but I couldn’t breathe or anything.



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“I didn’t really think much of it but I went for a scan and was told it was something they’d never seen before.

“And they said if there’d been a bit more pressure, it could’ve been a completely different story. They said I was pretty lucky.

“I tried to play on but that’s just me and I was ready to do anything to play in that Grand Final. However, I had to sit down and think what the repercussions of playing could’ve been.

“I could’ve ended up damaging my spinal cord, it was too high a risk. I was gutted really as I missed both major finals last season through injury.

“It’s just been a case of resting it and letting the ligament repair itself. I’m 12 weeks in now and I scan showed it’s healing. I’m coming towards the end now.

“Now it’s feeling really good. I’m doing my return to contact protocol and I’m eager to just put it behind me and move on.”

Bentley, who hails from the Morley area of Leeds, is enjoying life at the Rhinos, not least because it is only a 20 minute drive to work rather than a couple of hours.

He is also ready for more ‘advice’ from his father.

“I’m not missing the M62,” he added. “Some days, I’d drive over and stay there and I must admit, I do feel a bit better because of the shorter journeys.

“It’s still a thrill to call myself a Leeds player. Growing up, it’s all I wanted to do. I had a blue and amber bedroom and would watch games from the old South Stand wall.

“My heroes were the likes of Kevin Sinfield and Danny McGuire. Now my name’s on the back of a Leeds shirt – seeing that gives me a good feeling.

“My dad’s a big Leeds fan too but I’ve been hearing him tell me where I need to improve for the last 10 years – I just try to not listen to him.

“If we’re losing, he’ll probably give it me a bit more.”

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