Aidan Sezer couldn’t see out his left eye with a suspected broken cheekbone or eyesocket, but his Canberra teammates didn’t hear a peep – other than an apology – from their new halfback.
Sezer starred with a double on debut in the Raiders’ 30-22 round-one NRL win on Saturday over Penrith.
He sported a plum over his eye after the game and could barely talk.
“Mate, he was great for us,” said fullback and man of the match Jack Wighton.
“It’s just in Sezer (to play on). If you know him as a bloke, and his fitness all pre-season – every run, every effort – he’s always up the front.
“He’s just one of those competitive little halves, probably like Stick (coach Ricky Stuart) back in the days. He’s always in the mingle.
“It was great that he got through for us.”
Wighton, who had a near-flawless match marred by a late dropped ball off which the Panthers almost scored, said the former Gold Coast playmaker never complained.
He continued to steer the Raiders around the ground, stepping up in the absence of halves partner Blake Austin who was taken off 15 minutes into the second half with medial ligament damage to his right knee.
“He threw one ball that went to air a little bit and said ‘sorry’, but it probably wasn’t even his fault,” added Wighton.
“He was great. Everyone was great. We couldn’t be happier.”
Sezer had only played one match, a trial against Newcastle, since having off-season shoulder surgery.
It was also Austin’s first game back from a shoulder operation, but he faces another lengthy layoff to recover from his knee injury.
The 23-year-old Wighton said Austin would be sorely missed.
“But that’s the good thing about this year – we’ve got a lot of depth,” he said.
While open to the idea of playing in the halves alongside Sam Williams, who was likely to step in for Austin and/or Sezer, Wighton suggested youngster Lachlan Croker might fill the spot.
“He got one or two tries in the 20s tonight and showed great maturity, so he’s another fella who can come up and step into the role,” he said.
“I’m sure Sammy Williams will guide him around the park just fine.”