Jack Bird has revived memories of John Sattler and, in more recent times, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, after playing with a suspected broken arm in Cronulla’s fairytale NRL premiership win.
The Sharks centre looked certain to come off after copping heavy friendly fire from skipper Paul Gallen in the 19th minute against Melbourne on Sunday.
But Bird bravely fought through the pain barrier to play a critical role in their maiden title.
“I chased out of marker and went for the legs and I think it was Gal (who) fell on it. I might’ve just hyper-extended it. I thought I broke it,” Bird said post-game.
“I came in at halftime and I was pretty sore but I put some anaesthetic in it. Nothing’s going to stop me playing the big stage. It’s the grand final. This is war.
“You’re going to go out there and you’re going to do anything to win. If you’re going to rip someone’s eyeballs out, you’re going to do it. This is to win the f***ing grand final.”
Following the injury, the Storm attempted to target the incumbent NSW State of Origin five-eighth but he was determined not to let his team down.
He finished the match with 159 metres from 16 carries to go with his 18 tackles.
“If you saw someone injured in the opposite team, you’re going to target them and run at them all day. But I wouldn’t let the boys down, no way,” he said.
“I wouldn’t come off the field. There was no way I was going to let a try in. If I had to make a tackle and my f***ing arm came off, I’d still play.”
Bird said he had never played through as much pain as he did on Sunday night.
“I’ve done my ACL before, that wasn’t playing rugby league, that was playing touch. I’ve done me lateral ligament at training. I played all season last year with that,” he said.
“But I can’t recall being out there on the field and having so much pain in my life.”
The premiership ring caps off a breakout season for the 21-year-old, who has also had to overcome a battle with rheumatoid arthritis to make it in the NRL.
“To win a grand final, to play for my state, it’s been unbelievable. Especially with my illness, I never thought I’d play footy again. Here I am on the big stage and I’ve got a ring,” he said.