YORK Knights star Bailey Antrobus is determined to return from his ACL injury “better than ever” after signing a new two-year deal with the club.

The Welsh international sustained the long-term injury during an unfortunate training ground incident with fellow forward Pauli Pauli in early August and is not expected to be back available for Andrew Henderson’s side until the middle of the 2024 season.

A fan favourite since his arrival from the NRL’s St George Illawarra Dragons, an injury-hit season saw Antrobus limited to making just 16 appearances in 2023.

York Knights forward Antrobus pens new two-year deal

He is currently undergoing rehabilitation with his former club in Australia but has been impressed with the level of support that he is receiving Down Under and has vowed to return stronger than ever.

“It’s absolutely gut-wrenching,” he told the Knights.

“But it’s like a full-time athlete over here, four days of the week minimum. That’s rehab, plus four days a week in the gym at least.

“I’m guided 1-2-1 a lot which is unreal, it’s good support over here. I’m just thankful that I was able to get the time to come over and do it over here.

“The support staff have put the trust in me, which is good, and I’m just loving every minute over here just trying to get better and do the best that I can for the boys to get back out there.

“I’m doing the best that I can over here to get it right so that I’m back better than ever – quicker, faster and stronger, for the York fans and the boys.

“Seeing the boys go out there and killing it, it kills me not being there.

“But for the fans, I’m loving it every minute and I want to do the best that I can for them because they show up week in, week out, and I love them.”

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As keen as Antrobus is to get back onto the field for the first time since July, ensuring that he is only returning once he is ready to is of the utmost importance.

“I’m doing the best that I can to get out there as quick as I can, but making sure that it’s done right,” he explained.

“I don’t want to be one of those who do the same injury twice, but I just want to get my best foot forward and do my role and be the best York player that I can.

“Anywhere between six and nine [months], that’s the goal, but we’ll see how we go and make sure that it’s done right.

“I’ve got a really good medical support staff here, and we’ll get it back done over in York.”

York Press: Antrobus scored the Knights' opening try in their defeat to Keighley Cougars on Good Friday.Antrobus scored the Knights' opening try in their defeat to Keighley Cougars on Good Friday. (Image: Craig Hawkhead)

2023 marked a transitional season for the 23-year-old, who took on an advanced forward role as either prop or in the second row for the majority.

His three tries last term included a brace against NCL champions West Bowling in the Third Round of the Betfred Challenge Cup in March and in the Knights’ defeat to now-relegated Keighley Cougars in the Betfred Championship on Good Friday.

And Antrobus admits that he has enjoyed playing a more forward role under his new head coach.

“It’s good [playing in the forwards],” he enthused. “I just do my good stints, come on and come off, and do the work that I can to help everyone else out.

“I’ve been everywhere – I’ve been in the middle, the back row and at centre for one game as well.

“But I just put my hand up wherever the team needs me, you’ve got to put the team first and you just want to get the win for all your teammates and the boys out there.

“The middles are different – it’s a shock, but I like it. I enjoyed my time out there and I just want to do the best that I can for the team.”