Edwards' rapid recovery pays off
Panthers fullback Dylan Edwards woke up last Wednesday with his left leg in a brace. He was no hope of playing against Manly in the elimination final. Even the club's injury report had him slated for a three-week stint on the sidelines.
Not for the first time in his career, the youngster proved everyone wrong.
The 21-year-old was immense for Penrith as he helped steer them to a shock 22-10 win over the side that had soundly beaten them a week earlier, with the Panthers now preparing for a trip to Suncorp Stadium to take on the Broncos.
Playing in your first finals series is daunting enough for an NRL rookie, but Edwards's situation was magnified ten-fold by the fact he did it all with a grade two medial ligament tear in his left knee.
The fearless fullback hurt his knee against the Dragons in Round 25 and didn't train until three days out from the elimination final when he was finally able to get out of the knee brace.
It took two sessions for him to convince coach Anthony Griffin that he was good to go, with the move clearly paying off as he ran for 160 metres – just 20 shy of his season average.
Edwards had the knee heavily iced after the game but said it had pulled up better than expected and that he'd be a certain starter for Friday night's clash.
"The physio at the club worked really hard on me and got into me about doing all my recovery really well and tried to stick as much to that as I could. She got me back which is really good," Edwards said after the game.
"I didn't really know [when I'd be back] because it was touch and go. I was definitely [out] for one week, [coming back] in two weeks was a possibility if everything went well and three I reckon I would have been back for sure.
"I always hoped [I'd be back this week] and the physio was honest with me; she said, 'you might play, you might not. It's just how it pulls up'. We did everything we could to get back; it was just how the knee pulled up.
"On Wednesday I did my first run and that was it, I was out of the brace. I was back in the brace on Wednesday night and then came to training and that was it.
"I was surprised but grateful because it's good to run around in semi-final footy."
Having watched teammate Peter Wallace play through the pain, Edwards said he was inspired to do something similar at such a critical point of the season.
"We try to play really tough as a team and get through it," he said.
"This is finals footy so it's definitely a chance where you get to see how far you can go and how far you can push your body."
Speaking after the game, Griffin praised his No.1 for his rigorous approach to rehab.
"It's just a really great effort from him and I'm really pleased for the way he's rehabbed himself and I'm [grateful] to our staff for getting a key player back that quickly," Griffin said.