Well before ex-NSW coach Wayne Pearce uttered the fateful words “let’s try horse riding”, rugby league has been no stranger to freak injuries.
Yet Queensland mentor Mal Meninga reckoned few rivalled the incident that had him sweating on star centre Justin Hodges ahead of Wednesday night’s State of Origin opener.
Officials were at first reluctant to confirm it but it emerged that Hodges suffered a nasty foot wound when he crashed his bicycle while riding without shoes at their Gold Coast camp.
The resort’s sprawling nature ensures guests are best served to use complimentary bikes around the site.
But it seems Hodges paid the price for putting his foot down – literally.
At least Meninga could eventually see the funny side after giving Hodges and fellow star centre Greg Inglis (tonsillitis) the thumbs up for Origin I before flying into Sydney on Sunday.
“Both of them … do find very unique ways to get out of training,” Meninga said.
“This has been really unique but they’ll be fine.”
Meninga had not seen anything like it since big David Taylor sported an impressive head gash at the 2012 camp, claiming he fell out of bed.
But it all pales in comparison to the infamous 1999 NSW bonding exercise.
Pearce is still living down his idea to take the Blues horse riding after Melbourne forward Robbie Kearns fell and broke his collarbone, missing not only the Origin series but the rest of the 1999 season.
Hodges may not even make the top 10 of bizarre league injuries.
Tim Brasher (knee) missed the 2001 season when he fell while cleaning a ceiling fan.
Manly’s David Liddiard missed a match in the early 1990s when he pulled a back muscle cleaning his teeth.
Canterbury’s Greg Eastwood (ankle) stood on his kid’s toy car in 2011.
And Canberra’s Jack Wighton (foot) fell off his brother’s trampoline in 2012.
Still, that didn’t stop Hodges being in resident Maroons comedian Sam Thaiday’s sights when he finally returned to Queensland training on Sunday.
Unlike his pedal powered teammates, Hodges arrived at the Sunday session on the back of a golf buggy to give his foot’s three stitches some relief.
“Hodgo didn’t ride his bike but he’s wearing shoes so he’s learned from his mistakes and has shown everyone that he’s not that dumb,” Thaiday smiled.
“Who knows, in the next camp we might all get cars and drive down but we’d probably crash those as well.
“(But) you’ve got to do a lot more to Hodgo to stop him from playing on Wednesday.”
Asked if Queensland had been distracted by their teammates’ misfortune, Thaiday said: “You kind of get used to these things these days”.