Inspiration was all around after Brisbane forward Josh McGuire suffered a season-ending achilles injury in the Broncos’ 44-22 NRL win over Newcastle.
McGuire, on crutches, was quickly comforted after Friday night’s victory by Broncos teammates Justin Hodges and Darius Boyd, who had both come back from the same serious injury.
And spirits in the Brisbane dressing room were lifted by a surprise visit from ex-Newcastle forward Alex McKinnon, who suffered an on-field spinal injury last year.
But it seemed nothing could soften the blow for Broncos captain Hodges who feared McGuire’s injury might dent the NRL ladder leader’s title push.
McGuire put on a brave front after the injury not only cut short his season but also the Queensland forward’s maiden State of Origin campaign.
The Maroons’ team for July 8’s Origin decider in Brisbane will be named on Monday.
“A few of the boys have done a few (achilles) in the past so I am in the best hands – I am excited about getting stuck into rehab,” McGuire said.
“It’s very disappointing (missing Origin III) but it is also disappointing leaving the (Broncos) boys a front-rower down for the rest of the year – that’s heartbreaking as well.”
Asked if it was also disappointing to miss out on a potential NRL title tilt, McGuire said: “I will be at the club a long time so there is plenty of time to win premierships but I hope the boys get it this year.”
Hodges admitted McGuire’s injury would impact on their season, saying they would feel his absence more than Queensland.
“He’s a bigger blow for us here,” Maroons and Broncos veteran Hodges said of McGuire.
“He’s one of our No.1 props.”
Hodges had successfully come back from two achilles injuries while Boyd returned in time this year to earn Origin I selection.
“It’s devastating for him. It’s a big injury,” Hodges said of McGuire.
“But he’s a guy who works hard and takes no short cuts – he will be back.
“I have got back from two and I am a lot older than him – he’ll be right.”
McGuire appeared on crutches with teammates on the field after their thumping of Newcastle and was quickly consoled by Hodges and Boyd.
“I know what he has to go through,” Boyd said.
“It’s a tough journey but I am sure he will be ready next year.
“I spoke to him quickly about the rehab but it will take him a few weeks for it to soak in.
“It’s sad but I am sure he will be right.”
Meanwhile, Broncos Jordan Kahu and Dale Copley were both cleared of serious injury after leaving the field on Friday with concussion.