A shoulder injury to 400-gamer Cameron Smith and a knee injury to star five-eighth Cameron Munster have resulted in some tremendous experience and attacking brilliance that will be lacking against the Sydney Roosters on Thursday.
Luke Keary has revealed he played through the NRL finals with a syndesmosis injury that left him needing painkilling injections to face Melbourne and Canberra.
Keary confirmed after Sunday night’s 14-8 win over Canberra his ankle injury was far worse than he had let on, after he’d completed just half a training session in grand final week.
Injured in the week-one finals win over South Sydney, the Roosters five-eighth will now go for full scans to determine if he needs surgery that will rule him out of Australian selection.
But he admitted that if the preliminary and grand final had been normal round games, he would not have run out for the Roosters.
“I just tried to block everything out and get through it,” Keary said.
“I’d have been no chance (if it wasn’t finals).
“I knew I got through it in the Melbourne game and I thought I hid it pretty well. I didn’t think I was too bad.
“There were things you probably couldn’t see that I couldn’t do. I couldn’t run from left to right or prop off my right foot.
“I knew I was going to play (against Canberra in the grand final). It was just worse than I thought it was going to be.”
Keary only trained with the team for half of Friday’s run before the game, and was not on deck for other sessions on Monday and Wednesday.
His efforts emulate those of Cooper Cronk’s – albeit on a much smaller scale – after his halves partner played last year’s decider with a broken scapula.
He also had a key role in James Tedesco’s match-winning try, darting out of dummy half and finding Latrell Mitchell for a break down the left.
But he was so close to not even playing last week at all against Melbourne.
The 27-year-old believed he would be ruled out right up until kick off, as he was only confident he would face the Storm in the preliminary final after the warm up.
“Three days before the Melbourne game, it was tough. I thought I was no chance. I thought I was gone,” Keary admitted.
“I just said I would go and warm up in the Melbourne game and I just got through warm up and played.
“(I only knew I was playing) when I came in from warm up.”