Waerea-Hargreaves: I was always playing
Roosters prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves says he was never going to let injury rub him out of his favourite game of the year – Anzac Day – while also declaring himself available for the Kiwis next week if coach Steve Kearney opts to pick him.
Waerea-Hargreaves was supposed to miss up to six weeks with a pectoral strain suffered in a one-point loss to the Storm last week.
But the noted hardman, whose father Wayne Hargreaves is a now-retired UN peacekeeper who spent many years in the world's most dangerous warzones and was once kidnapped by militia in Somalia, said the significance of the date to his family meant he was never sitting this one out.
"I guess for me it's the most emotional game of the season. I did everything I could this week to make sure I got out there on the field. It's just disappointing we didn't get the win," Waerea-Hargreaves told NRL.com after the 14-12 loss.
"It's my favourite game for the year, big for me and my family, I stayed positive all week. I said I was always playing, there was never any doubt."
A conversation with his coach Trent Robinson – who had been reluctant to risk the Kiwi international given the nature of the injury and potential for further damage – simply spurred Waerea-Hargreaves on more.
"I walked into Robbo's office and told him I was playing this weekend. He said 'good luck' and I walked out of there saying 'you make your own'," he said.
"It's such a great game to be a part of; we've been successful the last couple of years. Not to come away with a win tonight, we were so close and have been over the last month of footy.
"We've spoken about it - every team's coming with their best performance against us. We need to accept that, fight as hard as we can and get the win. We just need to ice a few more plays in crucial times in the game.
"I guess it's hard to take, you come so close... it is frustrating but at the same time we are playing solid footy. We spoke about how we don't need to do extra fitness, we don't need to do extra goal-line defence, we just need to win."
In his post-match press conference, Robinson revealed his concerns over the 26-year-old's potential to injure his pec more seriously.
"We were hesitating – medically it was easy to rule him out... you need to back guys, your most experienced guys, to manage that," Robinson said.
"There's injuries you play with where you know you're not going to do further damage. That was a risk [on Saturday], there was a big risk of further damage but I think if he gets through, hopefully two weeks to recover I'm hoping he'd be close to full strength come the Tigers game."
Robinson said he'd originally expected Waerea-Hargreaves to miss a fair bit of footy.
"He told us all week he was going to play. We honestly thought he was going to be out for a while, didn't think he was going to get the strength back that quickly."
But the Roosters coach acknowledged Anzac Day is a big occasion for the prop's family.
"He worked hard and he got back into it. I think we made the decision after the final run [on Friday]."
Waerea-Hargreaves came through the Anzac clash sore but otherwise unscathed as far as further injury was concerned. And he could be set for another argument with his club coach if Kiwi mentor Steve Kearney does throw him a Test call-up, saying he has "not at all" been ruled out of the May 1 international.
"I haven't heard anything [from Kearney] but then I guess I haven't spoken to anyone because no-one knew I was playing. I'm extremely stoked to have been out there today and play and get through and come away all good so I just need to put my head down and backside up," he said.
"Absolutely [I'm available], yeah for sure, always available for Kiwi selection. I've worked hard and just got to wait for that call now."