Mark McCully

Date published: Friday, September 14, 2012

A SERIOUS knee injury is threatening Oldham centre Mark McCully’s rugby league career.

Advised to retire by a specialist, he is booked in for an operation in November after playing for most of the season with an arthritic right knee which was surgically reconstructed five years ago.

“I don’t want to retire, but I have to admit it isn’t looking good,” said the 32-year-old former Rochdale Hornets centre, who has been troubled by the knee on and off since he ruptured the medial ligament while playing for Hornets at Hull KR in 2006.

He will make a final decision, he says, at the end of the year or early next year, depending on the success or otherwise of the operation.

He added: “The consultant has told me I have no cartilage left in the knee, which is riddled with arthritis.

“It didn’t do any good when I took a hefty bang on it in a pre-season friendly at Whitehaven last January.

“I missed the entire Northern Rail Cup campaign, but I played most of the Championship 1 season by relying on adrenalin to see me through.

“I would get through a match, but then have to put up with pain and soreness in everyday life for the rest of the week — and that went on game after game, week in and week out.

“At the age of 32, time isn’t on my side, but apart from the knee I feel good enough to go on for a year or two.

“That’s why I’m reluctant to make the big decision now. I’ll see how I am after the operation.”

He said his injury problems added to what had been a frustrating season for the squad as a whole.

He went on: “Potentially, we had the best team in the division. We should have done a lot better and finished among the promoted top four.

“Early on in the season I thought we were on our way, but then it all went wrong after we had won the first three league games to emerge as early pace-setters at the top of the table.

“The way in which we lost Sunday’s play-off at Workington in the last couple of minutes just about summed up our season.”

Club chairman Chris Hamilton paid tribute to McCully’s hard work in difficult circumstances.

Describing him as “tough, uncompromising and without frills”, he said he was a player who would probably be held in higher regard by his peers and his opponents than by Roughyeds fans.

He added: “Mark never takes a backward step. There’s nothing flash about him, but he can be relied on at all times.

“We can only hope, like him, that his operation is successful and that he will be able to carry on playing into the foreseeable future.”

The club’s end-of-season presentation dinner will be staged at Whitebank tonight with several players in the running to pick up individual awards.