Zillman: That could have been me
Gold Coast Titans fullback William Zillman has revealed that there was a time when he doubted his future in the game as he described as "absolutely shocking" the news that injury had forced Jharal Yow Yeh to retire at just 24 years of age.
Playing for Canberra at the time, Zillman had just turned 21 and was playing in his 22nd top-grade game when he ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament. When it went for a second time in Round 2 of the 2008 season just six months later, Zillman contemplated whether he could go through the torturous rehabilitation process again so soon.
"I had two knee reconstructions back-to-back within six months so I was at a stage where I probably thought, Is my career going to keep going?" Zillman admitted.
"When that happened that quickly, I was quite young which was fortunate because I had a long time to get it right and had 12 months to really get my knee right and I haven't looked back since.
"When it happens, it's really tough, but the fortunate thing in our job is that you're surrounded by 30 or so best mates and a coaching staff and club staff that really have your best interests at heart. It makes it a little bit easier but it would be tough, what Jharal's going through."
Although they never played together, Zillman and Yow Yeh opposed each other four times in clashes between the Titans and Broncos in 2010-11 and the Titans custodian sympathised with the agonising decision made by the 24-year-old NRL, Origin and Test star.
"That's absolutely shocking news. I actually know him just through a couple of development camps that I've been on and he's a great young guy and all would admit with a huge future ahead of him," Zillman said when told of Yow Yeh's retirement. "That's shocking news and I really feel for him.
"I know it's probably hard for people to understand but as a footballer I can sort of get some sense of what he's going through and it would be tough."
It is in no way comparable to the torture that Yow Yeh has been forced to endure over the past two years but "absolutely shocking" was an apt description for the Titans' performance in their first home game of the season on Sunday.
Played in oppressive conditions in which Zillman estimated he lost two kilograms in body weight over the course of the 80 minutes, the Titans failed to reproduce the defensive resolve they displayed in Round 1 and were punished by the Wests Tigers.
Titans players were forced to sit through a horror show of a video session on Monday morning before calling a team lunch in order to regroup and move on to preparations for the Raiders on Sunday evening.
"It's tough going into a video session after any loss but particularly today," said Zillman, who will face former Raiders teammates Terry Campese and Dane Tilse on Sunday. "It's just one of those things; you've got to face the music, that's part of our job. The other part is getting back on the horse and turning out a good performance the week after.
"We did our video, we know what we did wrong we know where we went wrong and we know what we've got to improve on. Basically the minute we stepped out of that video room, we move on to this Sunday against the Raiders and righting our wrongs.
"We've got plenty to work on and I've got great faith in the team that they can do that and turn it around within a week."