PLYMOUTH Albion fly-half Elliot Bale was delighted to play his first half of league rugby since September at the weekend.
Bale came on at the interval as Albion produced a sensational comeback at Fylde, turning around a 26-10 half-time deficit to win 38-26.
The 24-year-old started the season as Albion’s first choice 10 but then suffered a knee injury that has troubled him since.
While he was out injured, 19-year-old Billy Searle came in and made the fly-half jersey his own and so Bale has had to be patient in recent weeks.
But after his 40 minutes at Fylde, Bale has his eyes on trying to get the Albion number 10 shirt back.
“I haven’t played a half since September, thinking about it,” said Bale.
“It has been pretty frustrating with my knee and Billy’s done pretty well at 10 as well.”
He added: “I had an injection on the knee and I’ve just been trying to manage it every week. The physios are doing a good job, just keeping it settled.
“I’m back in training now and it is going well. Hopefully, I can go well for the rest of the season.
“But it has been massively frustrating. Pre-season went really well and I thought I did well in the first two or three games that I played in, but then unfortunately my knee gave me a few problems and I have not really been able to shake that off.
“But I really enjoyed being back on the pitch with the guys on Saturday. Hopefully, I can get some game-time in the next few months.
“I will be working really hard. I am getting back into kicking now, so, hopefully, I can put some pressure on to try and get my place back.
“I want to be starting as soon as possible, but it’s up to Graham to decide who is the best guy for the number 10 shirt.”
Bale was delighted to be able to play his part in Albion’s sensational comeback at Fylde.
“It was a strange game being down by that score (26-10) at half-time. My main focus when I came on was just to try and get some energy into the team. The team looked quite flat at half-time.
“We just wanted to stick to our game-plan and our structure and get some scores that way rather than chasing the game, as that’s when you make errors and Fylde would capitalise on that. Thankfully, we got some tries and the five points.”
Bale is hoping Albion can get another win this weekend when they host Coventry at Brickfields.
“They (Coventry) are pretty physical, they have got good structure, got quite a good kicking game and, as a Leicester lad, I am not a particular fan of Coventry either,” said Bale.
“Hopefully, we can get the win. We were disappointed to lose in front of our home crowd against Hull, so we have to turn it around.”
With Bale now fit again, James Penman on the verge of a return and Tom Putt getting closer, competition for places is hotting up, especially with Ed Holmes and Jarrad Hayler set to return this weekend after missing last weekend’s trip to Lancashire.
“There is a lot of guys now,” said Bale. “It’s difficult but I think it’s good for us as players because we are pushing each other in training every day. The most important thing is that the team wins on Saturday and we keep going up the league.
“Everyone works for the team, that’s the main focus for everyone.”