THE Bulls believe they have finally got to the root of the back problem haunting Joe Keyes.

The Ireland international is yet to feature this season because of the on-going issue that has dogged him since last year.

But another visit with a consultant on Tuesday has hopefully diagnosed what’s troubling him – and how it can be sorted without requiring an operation.

READ MORE: Kear hails half-back pairing

Coach John Kear said: “The consultant feels it’s a structural problem so we’re now going to wait and see what his advice is with regards to correcting it.

“The good thing was it’s not a problem with the central nervous system, which is obviously a relief. It’s also one that we don’t think will require surgery.

“So, although we haven’t been able to get him on the field and it has been frustrating, we feel we’re getting to the bottom of it now.

“Once we’ve spoken to the consultant about the steps we need to take to get him back, I’m sure he’ll be out there sooner rather than later.”

Keyes played two friendlies in January but had to come off early in each of them. Kear admits it has been a tough time for him.

“Joe’s really felt it,” he added. “You’re not part of the group if you can’t do the same things.

“He’s always doing adapted training and his rehab.

“Every player likes to be in and amongst the team and he hasn’t been. It’s been hard but I think he felt after the other day that there is light at the end of the tunnel.”

Keyes’ continued absence has hit the Bulls at half-back where they are down to Jordan Lilley as the only available specialist - and he has been suffering with a dead leg. 

Dane Chisholm went for a scan on Wednesday for his injured kneecap that has kept him out of the last two games. Rohan Milnes is expected to miss another month with a knee tendon injury.

Hooker Matty Wildie is set to fill in again alongside Lilley at Widnes on Sunday – a scratch partnership that impressed Kear in the win over Batley.

“I thought the pair of them were absolutely outstanding,” he said. “They controlled the game for us basically from start to finish.”