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The Mad Titan
5,111 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
posting this because of shoguns recent knee injury

THE scene is Shark Park, round four of the NRL. Parramatta winger Eric Grothe has the football. Luke Covell sets out after him, steps, then hears a terrible snapping sound.

It's later diagnosed as a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament, normally a season-ending injury and, on this occasion, one that could end his career.

"I played on in pain for 20 minutes," he now reveals, "because I didn't want it [my career] to end."

Covell is 29 and his modest contract is up in October. He has a wife, two young children, and a decent mortgage on a townhouse in Engadine.

Knee reconstruction surgery usually requires 20 to 24 weeks rehabilitation.

He knows that if he can't make it back this year, it's all over. He'll return to his hometown near Tweed Heads on the NSW North Coast and get a job in real estate or go back to his old trade as a plumber.

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Enter Cronulla Sharks physio Konrad Shultz. They meet on the Monday morning to discuss options.

Suddenly the conversation turns to Sydney Swans star Nick Malceski, the first footballer in this country to undergo radical knee surgery that got him back on to an AFL park 12 weeks later.

It's known as an alignment augmentation and reconstructive system operation (LARS).

The risky procedure, which has been banned in some countries overseas, involves two industrial-strength synthetic fibres, similar to thick laces in sports joggers, being inserted into his knee to act as his ACL.

But there are no guarantees it will work. He meets a knee specialist who has never done the surgery before but goes away and researches it.

By the Thursday he's on the operating table.

By the Saturday - less than a week after getting injured - he has thrown the crutches away and is walking, or make that limping, unassisted.

Since leaving St Vincents Hospital after the 90-minute operation, Covell has kept a diary for The Daily Telegraph.

It's been a punishing 10 weeks. Light massages on the knee to remove fluid for the first few days. Rest, ice and a compression pump all day.

For two weeks he set an alarm twice during the night to get more ice treatment.

Day after day, night after night of ice baths, physio, 500m walks, exercise bike, stretching and muscle stimulators to gradually rebuild the strength to have one more crack at NRL.

Then slowly building up to running 50m in a straight line, weights, running a curve for the first time and then a sidestep on the rebuilt knee.

And then goalkicking, and back to team training, and even going for a surf.

Miraculously, Luke Covell is now ready to make his comeback - two weeks earlier than even Swans star Malceski.

He's aiming to play NSW Cup for the Sharks next weekend and then hopefully first grade a bit further down the track.

It's been a recuperation that has stunned the Sharks medical staff and other sports doctors across the country.

"This will revolutionise the treatment of football related ACL injuries," said Sharks medico Dr David Giveney.

"Luke was always going to be the perfect guinea pig or test case in rugby league to have the procedure because he's the ultimate professional.

"He'd be in the top one or two players I've ever treated for professionalism and ticking all the boxes in rehab.

"There's always a risk when you're the first to have something done because of teething problems.

"Did I think 10 weeks ago he could be back ready to play now? God no. I was never confident, apart from the fact it was Luke."

Covell is hardly the flashiest player in rugby league.

For year's he's given away speed, size, strength and skill to much more fancied opponents.

But on the score of personal resolve and determination, few would get anywhere near him.

"This was all about me wanting to finish a career in rugby league on my own terms," he says.

"It's been a lot of hard work and you occasionally lose sight of the light at the end of the tunnel.

"But my wife and my mum and dad, who often flew down from the coast to help out with the kids, have been unbelievable encouragement for me.

"I worked as a plumber for a couple of years and I've done a real estate course, which I'm interested in when it all comes to an end.

"But I'm not ready for that yet. My goal is to come back, play some good footy, and hopefully earn another contract in the NRL.

"At least this operation has given me another chance ... and anything can happen."

You're not terribly important to me
15,563 Posts
covell stinks and grothe isn't that good either
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