Not much stays secret in the AFL, despite the best efforts of clubs, which makes the surprise news that Dale Morris played in the grand final with a broken back a significant coup for the Western Bulldogs.
In fact he played the whole finals series with the problem he suffered in the Dogs’ round 23 loss to Fremantle.
Morris still wasn’t saying much about the specifics of the injury – it is believed he has two fractured vertebrae – when he spoke to reporters at Whitten Oval on Sunday.
The 33-year-old was a key figure in the 22-point win over Sydney, with several desperate spoils and jarring tackles – notably a last-quarter effort against Lance Franklin – despite his back concern.
There was speculation Morris had been dealing with a heel issue in the lead up to the grand final after he was spied undergoing a fitness test behind closed doors at Whitten Oval on Wednesday.
But the true nature of the injury emerged after the Dogs’ drought-breaking grand final win.
“There are going to be a lot of stories coming out about what guys have been through … everyone plays through injuries,” Morris said.
“I wasn’t going to miss this for the world.
“Obviously we kept it pretty quiet, but the medical staff were awesome. (Club doctors Gary Zimmeran and Jake Landsberger) especially did some amazing work and our fitness team were great in helping me get up every week.”
Morris said the injury sounds worse than it is and that he wasn’t in too much discomfort on Sunday.
Coach Luke Beveridge admitted he was in awe of the veteran’s effort.
“Try and hold him back … his courage and bravery got him through,” Beveridge said.
“I was a bit concerned when he got hit early in the game, it would have hit that area, but he made it through.”