LUCKLESS Knights five-eighth Jarrod Mullen faces an uncertain future after aggravating his troublesome right hamstring at training.
The playmaker broke down while doing a ball work drill on Thursday. Scans revealed a small tear near where he had the tendon reattached to the bone in May.
He doesn’t require surgery and although hopeful of being fit for the start of the season, Mullen was uncertain of his long-term future.
“I don’t need surgery or that, it is just a recurrence thing,” Mullen told the Newcastle Herald. “It is not going to be as strong as it usually is. If it keeps going it will be pretty hard to get back. I just have to be patient with it, and hopefully it gets stronger before the start of the season. It is frustrating for me and the club that it went again. But it is not as bad as last time.”
It is the third time in seven months that Mullen has injured the same hamstring. The 29-year-old required surgery and was sidelined for three months after tearing the tendon off the bone playing against Manly on Anzac Day. He returned in round 19 before suffering a setback a week later and missing another game.
“It is not like I have been out on the drink and eating the wrong things,” Mullen said. “I have been doing none of that and training really hard. There were no signs of it going. It never felt tight or anything like that. I wasn’t fatigued. They have looked after me with all the running. I was just squaring up at the line and it went again.”
Mullen, who is contracted until the end of 2018, said there were a “couple of things I can do through the physio” to strengthen the area.
“I just have to get into the rehab and keep doing all the right things, like I have been doing,” he said.
“I have to grit my teeth and keep going,” Mullen said. “Fingers crossed it holds strong.”
Mullen, who has played 211 games since making his debut as a teenager in 2005, has missed almost half a season with injury in each of the last three years.
A ruptured medial sesamoid bone in his foot restricted him to 10 games in 2015. In 2014 he was sidelined for the opening five rounds after tearing his left hamstring at the Auckland Nines.
The horror run has been as much a mental struggle as physical. When returning from surgery in July he admitted to “a lot of sitting at home and contemplating whether you want to play footy any more and that sort of stuff … but you have to get over it and suck it up. There are a lot worse people off than you out there.”