The following piece is written entirely in the words of Sydney Roosters winger Ryan Hall, who takes us through his road to recovery and discusses his mindset towards returning to the best version of himself.
In terms of mindset, for the last 18 months or so, I’ve just been keeping it positive.
It’s been a bit of a rocky ride so far, definitely not what I imagined when I first signed with the Club.
Going right back to the start, I’ve played all my career in Leeds for the Rhinos virtually (touch wood) injury free.
A couple of knocks, bumps and bruises along the way, but nothing major.
I was coming to the end of my contract and to move clubs at that point of my career was a big call, since I’d always been a one club man and had accomplished a lot in that time.
I was fully committed to leave. I wanted to go to the Roosters because they’re such a good Club.
I was really geared up for it, really pleased with my decision to do that.
Three weeks after signing on the dotted line, that’s when my ACL went, the first major injury of my career.
Robbo (Trent Robinson) was brilliant, really calm and good about the whole thing.
He called me and said “We’ll get you through it, we’ve got a good history with rehab and ACL injuries.”
So I went through that process, the Club were great.
I got back playing, made my NRL debut, featured in some games.
I think the coaches were happy too that I was getting some rhythm and doing what was needed for the team.
Then I started having problems with the other knee, the result of a bit of a freak accident at training.
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It was diagnosed as a dislocated knee cap, which is not really common in someone my age or gender.
All the doctors reports that were coming back were that it’s usually a problem seen in young girls.
I didn’t know how I should feel about that one, whether I should be congratulated or insulted.
So that recovered, the ego and the knee, but it put me out for the rest of the year with the Roosters.
The Great Britain Lions and Nines squad still wanted me to represent though, so I went back to playing, hoping that my knee could get back to my standards.
It must not have been as strong as it could have been though, cause in the second game for the Lions it (his knee) just fell out.
It didn’t need much encouragement to go like it did the first time it happened.
That was the strongest indicator that it needed more strengthening and required surgery to get it completely right, which was the option that we took.
There were varying reports on how long it should take to return to 100%, because again not many rugby league players have had the operation that is required to fix this problem.
We had a bit of a guideline that we stuck to, and I’ve just been hoping to get back ASAP.
That’s what I keep telling myself, I’m back out there ASAP.
As soon as I can, I will be back.
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It’s been a turbulent 18 months, and now I’m at a point where I’m much closer to the end of it.
My knee is okay now, but because I missed so much of the pre-season, there’s so much that I haven’t done.
In terms of volume, strength, fitness, I just couldn’t get through any of that.
A lot of sessions I was just standing and watching, plus there was only so much that I was actually able to do in the gym.
Doing work in the gym is no substitute for that stuff.
It was apparent when I got back running on how much that I had missed out on cause I felt so far behind.
That wasn’t in my knee, that was in my fitness.
That’s where we’re at now.
My knee is doing great, the rest of my body isn’t yet and that’s why we have a pre-season in the first place.
There is such thing as a good mindset and a bad mindset about it.
You need that pre-season to set yourself up for the season, and if you don’t have it then everything comes crashing down.
You might go okay for a couple of weeks, but there’s a big soft underbelly there.
Much like an egg, quite hard on the outside but when it’s cracked all you’ve got is goo.
I need to make myself into a hard boiled egg, that’s the process I’ve got to get through.
I’m not a good watcher, though I’ve had plenty of experience of late.
I can only do what I can do, and keep positive about it.
That’s what separates certain athletes, some people can come back from it and some can’t.
All the good stories all come down to the attitude that people have during a tough time.
That’s totally me, that’s just what I have to do.
It helps being in this environment as well because all the lads are very encouraging.
The support staff are great, they’re really helping me through it physically and mentally.
The family have been helping me through it, and I’ve spent a lot of time with them of late with the current climate of the world.
I’ll continue to attack it, and I’ll do so with a smile on my face.
I came to this Club to do a job, and my job is far from over.
I came here to compete, I came here to play hard, I came here to win a grand final.
You have to be a certain personality to be a Rooster, and I want to be that personality.
I need the chance to be that personality.