Aitken's season over after shoulder setback
Euan Aitken's selflessness has robbed the 22-year-old of the chance of figuring in St George Illawarra's finals push and Scotland's World Cup campaign after the Dragons centre dislocated his shoulder for the second time this season on Friday night.
Back just four weeks after dislocating his shoulder in a two-try performance against the Sea Eagles in Round 20, Aitken was desperate to take his place in the team to face Brisbane, particularly after winger Nene Macdonald was ruled out with a knee injury on Thursday.
Admitting that his shoulder was a long way from 100 per cent, Aitken looked like getting through the 80 minutes until the final minute when he was pulled back in an awkward tackle as he tried to score.
That resulted in his left shoulder popping out of its socket again, coach Paul McGregor confirming he would be headed straight for surgery, ruling him out of the rest of the season and the Bravehearts' World Cup squad.
Aitken had been receiving rehab on his shoulder as much as five times a day for the past four weeks in order to return to the field as soon as possible and was devastated to have all his hard work undone in the final tackle of the game, ending his injury-plagued season at 12 games.
"It's pretty disappointing, I've worked really hard to get back," Aitken told NRL.com after the game.
"There was a lot of adversity with the team this week, there were five or six blokes coming down with the flu or fever, myself included, and then coming back from shoulder and things were against us tonight.
"I had the brace on tonight plus the strapping so it was pretty locked down but just the momentum of me going forward and him pulling me backwards it just popped out again.
"It didn't feel great but you've got to learn to play with them sort of things. Obviously it's not the best, you're not 100 per cent but you've got to move on with it and do the best you can for the team."
Over the past four weeks Aitken has immersed himself in TV shows such as Peaky Blinders, Game of Thrones and Vikings and played The Witcher on the PS4 as he has subjected himself to the torturous monotony of injury rehabilitation.
It's a routine he will return to once the surgery has been carried out, Aitken revealing that he and the club considered getting the shoulder operated on when he suffered the initial dislocation a month ago.
"I met up with the surgeon in Melbourne and in Sydney and got a couple of opinions on what the best option was," said Aitken, who played three Tests for Scotland in last year's Four Nations tournament.
"They said the worst I could do was pop it out again and that's why I've worked hard in rehab for the last four weeks trying to get it strong enough and put my hand up this week to play footy.
"I would have got through the game if it wasn't for that last incident. It's pretty unlucky that position I got caught in.
"You can't keep shoulders braced up for too long because they get really stiff and that's why we went and saw a couple of surgeons about some different types of surgeries to make it a bit more stiff.
"I'll just have to work hard during the off-season and pre-season to get it right and get it as strong as possible and better than before.
"I've had the hamstring issues as well this year so it hasn't been the best year for me.
"I've been a bit unlucky in stages but you've got to deal with that and bounce back and be even stronger."