AS his team-mates jumped on top of him in elation, making moving impossible for Greg Eastwood as he sealed the Bulldogs’ Preliminary Final win with a try in the final seconds, he reflected on what might have been.
The Kiwi international had approached the 2012 season with some apprehension. After years of painful and debilitating wrist problems, he went in for surgery again in the back-end of the 2011 season.
Eastwood and his family had reached the point of no return. This was his last shot.
“I think after my third operation on both my wrists, I sort of thought, Maybe this could be it,” Eastwood says. “I had to sit down with my fiancée and have a chat. She said I should go one more year and if I had any more problems, you know…”
The 25-year-old trails off at his last thought, with images of premature retirement flooding his brain.
“If I can’t move my hands I can’t pick up my kids,” he says simply.
But in a stroke of luck from the football gods, Eastwood’s latest surgeries stuck.
“I’ve had a lot of injuries, my wrist problems. I really wanted to work hard on that this year. I had a good pre-season and worked really hard, and it’s paying off.”
The back-rower has been part of a forward pack that has been ripping teams apart, and after seven years in the game, he’s had one of his best seasons to date.
Despite his age, he is part of the ‘old breed’ of Bulldogs players – the rare ones who have big game experience under their belts – but quite surprisingly, he’ll have some nerves going into unknown territory.
“I’ve never played in a Grand Final so I’m really excited and a little bit nervous at the same time,” he says. “I just have to look forward to the week and embrace it. It’s another proud step in my career.”