Cooper Cronk played in Sunday night's grand final with an injury usually seen in car crash victims, such was the severity of the 15cm fracture through the width of his scapula.
After the premiership triumph, Sydney Roosters doctor Ameer Ibrahim provided a detailed run down of what Cronk went through in the lead-up to the decider to be able to take the field.
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"Robbo (Roosters coach Trent Robinson) was really calm, he was saying 'If it's negative news I don't want to hear about it, you just have to give him every minute'," Ibrahim said.
"But in the back of my mind I'm saying, 'he's no chance, he's no chance'. I spoke to about four or five different shoulder specialists – orthopaedic surgeons – to see if there was anything we could do. Can we operate and get him back in a week? Nah, we couldn't do that. They said the only thing you can do is 'he can't play'. It's unstable he can't play, he can't play."
Wednesday: The Roosters organise a CT scan and local anaesthetic injection
"We did a trial injection to see what would happen with a local anesthetic," Ibrahim said.
"He got some relief from it but not enough. I thought if we could get that again, he might be better if we gave him a bit more. Unfortunately it was done with a CT scan. So I was thinking if I get a CT scan I have to find a place around here (ANZ Stadium).
"If we do a CT scan in Auburn (before the game) and maybe get a police escort here to the game to get him out there. Then I rang a friend of mine who owns a practice around here and he said I don't think you need a CT scan, I think you can do it with an ultrasound. So I said let's do a test injection."
Friday: Cronk travels to Castle Hill to undergo ultrasound and further injections following an appointment with surgeon Dr Craig Harris
"With the ultrasound, you can see where everything is," Ibrahim said.
"He gave a big dose and within 15 minutes he was able to move his arm, the physio was tackling him to the ground. He was passing. He'd gone from 'I'm going to chuck the towel in' to 'I'm half a chance' after that injection. I rang the guy and he said 'I can do it on game day if you want'. I said 'done'. Then it was up to the coach and the player to see if they wanted to take the risk on the injection and see if it would wear out. It's one thing to have an injection and be numb and throw a ball around, but if you get hit out there it wears off pretty quickly.
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"I've never seen it done. Everyone I spoke to hadn't done it. We broke it down to first principles. What's the worse that can happen and move backwards from there. Could we get rid of pain? Could we improve function? We could. After that it was OK. I knew he wasn't going to do any more damage. It's a broken bone but it's not a weight-bearing bone.
"It's like a Roman Polanski movie. You look at it and you don't know where to start but by the end it becomes really clear. Whereas the CT scan injected one area, with the ultrasound we were able to inject the length of the fracture line. He was able to do push ups. He was able to pass. As the week went on it was almost like we were humouring him a bit going through the motions but come Friday – it was just really fortunate I called this bloke – he literally went from no chance to 'I'm playing'."
Game day: Cronk requires double dose of injections to get through the match
"The radiologist (Dr Harris) came, we got him a pass and he brought his machine with him. He got here at five o'clock and he injected it (at 6.45pm) as we did on Friday before the match and then topped him up at half-time," Ibrahim said.
"That fracture is what you see with motorbike accidents and car accidents. It was the width of his scapula – the entire width. Which would have been 15cm. We cut the jersey off at half-time. We didn't want to waste any time. He'd already marked the area he was going to inject with permanent marker. The second time around was a lot quicker to inject.
"The other thing to note is that it was the maximum dose we could give him. Anything more and it starts playing with your heart. If you give someone too much local anaesthetic their heart goes into a funny rhythm. We gave him 20ml before the match and 15ml at half-time. The maximum we could give him was 45mL. He would have been in 11 out of 10 pain coming here today."
Robinson openly admitted Cronk's performance left him in awe.
"I've seen guys get injured in games but I haven't seen a guy fracture his scapula, complete break through the scapula and then play 60 minutes with it then have to deal with it all week, have four different lots of injections through the week - I've never seen a guy as mentally strong as Cooper Cronk," Robinson said.
"What this guy had to do this week to get there was incredible."
Cronk shifted the praise to the Roosters for getting him game-ready in time for kick-off.
"Everyone at this football club has sacrificed something for me to be here. I don't take that responsibility lightly, that was the motivation, and it was my duty to do whatever I could do to repay that faith," Cronk said.
"From the top down, everyone in this organisation sacrificed something for me to be here. I don't take that responsibility lightly, that was the motivation.
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"We didn't know if I would be able to play. It was only a last-minute thing ... the boys trained all week without me playing and the whole idea was to use me as a decoy.
"Luke Keary was outstanding tonight, everything was set up for him to have the game of his life and he delivered."