Inside Word: The rollercoaster rehab ride
Round one certainly tossed up some mixed results and some big scorelines that would have broken a few coaches' hearts. The biggest worries, though, are major injuries to key players in some line-ups.
Newcastle was probably hardest hit with Isaac DeGois and Neville Costigan both out for three to four months with a broken thumb and arm respectively. Kurt Gidley also has back problems and could miss one or two games.
Manu Vatavai, Jamie Lyon, Sam Burgess, Alan Tongue and Michael Jennings will also be out for some time. Huge losses at any time of your season, but especially now when these early points are so valuable.
The one guy I really feel for is Souths' Scott Geddes. This poor bugger cannot take a trick. He has had so many serious injuries - from broken legs to dislocated kneecaps and the latest is a ruptured achilles, which has finished his season already ... heartbreaking!
The rehabilitation ahead of all these guys, in particular Geddes, will be a rollercoaster ride. First is the realisation that after all the hard work of the off-season you really are starting all over again. In the meantime they will be trying to heal, but also hang on to the gains they made physically over the past months.
The first week/weeks after a serious long-term injury are frustrating. The mental demons in your head ask 'why me? Why now? Will it ever get better?' Once you pass through this and your surgery something inside you clicks - a determination that you will be back better than ever and will do whatever it takes to get there.
Swimming is a great way to tick the body over, and the club trainers will find a way to keep you in decent shape no matter what body part you have injured. They seem to take great joy in inflicting pain on players in any way possible ... but we all know the rewards at the end will be worth it.
The sports science staff at all our clubs are first class. Knowing that when a serious injury occurs we are seeing the best surgeons, getting the best physio and rehab really puts your mind at ease and lets you focus on getting back on the field ASAP.
It's hard watching your teammates each week when you are injured. After a win you are really happy for the boys but feel a little left out. After a loss you feel bad for the boys and a little like you have let them down by not being on the field.
Once the game is over you know it's time for another big week of rehab and trying to get small improvements each day. Some days you can push too hard and the injury may swell up overnight. This is hard to cop but I guess it's your body telling you to ease up a little.
Michael Jennings has a recurring hamstring injury that could sideline him for up to a month. These hammy injuries are a nightmare - slow to heal and very hard to tell if they are 100 per cent or not. They can feel great for 30 minutes and then when you start to get fatigued and exert some force ... BANG, there it goes again. Damn it! ... another week on the sidelines.
Those who have never torn one badly can't believe you can't play when you can still actually run around half pace for a while. For an explosive player like Jennings a bad hammy can be your worst enemy.
After my first weekend of retirement, I spent a day in Melbourne this week doing a live TV appearance on The Circle, a talk show on Channel Ten, to promote a program we are running at the NRL with One Community called Rugby League Reads.
It is a reading program aimed at primary school children encouraging them to read and highlighting the importance of reading in everyday life. We have books for Kinder to Year 2 and magazines for Years 3-6 featuring our star players. It has really helped the young boys in particular, giving them something to read that really engages them and excites them.
It is a great concept and has been very well received in over 230 schools over the past 12 months. Anyone interested in this program can contact the NRL to find out more or go to www.rloc.com.au.
I am looking forward to this week's games and hoping I do a little better with my tipping! The first round was a tipster's nightmare! After picking the Roosters and the 1-12 margin on Friday night I thought 'how easy is this?'. By Monday night I had only tipped three more games ... I can only improve.
Enjoy the week and good luck!
My tips for round two: Eels, Raiders, Storm, Tigers, Cowboys, Bulldogs, Roosters, Dragons.