Sydney Roosters lock forward Victor Radley discussed his road to recovery in 2020 as the pre-season approaches and the countdown to a 2021 return begins.
The following piece is written entirely in the words of Victor Radley, who discusses his ongoing recovery from an ACL injury.
I remember it well, we were up against St George and we’d come back from that COVID break really pumping.
I remember in those first five minutes it felt like I was on, I was in that flow state.
I was just on that day, not sure why that was.
We scored a try early, I remember I played the ball, the kick went down the field. I’d been working on this blitz play for a couple of months.
If I play the ball on the last tackle, I hang back after the kick and come from behind the line to put pressure on the outside back that’s taking the carry.
The plan there is to make a kind of positive play for the team and get us on the front foot.
So I’ve seen the kick and thought, “I’m gonna do the blitz play here.”
I’ve hung back on the kick chase rather than chasing it, I’ve come out of the line but he stepped me pretty cleanly.
I went down, it kind of hurt a little bit and I just knew that something was up.
I haven’t had many injuries in my life, touch wood, but I turned over and thought, “Ah, I’ve done something here.”
I knew straight away it was an ACL.
Travie (Travis Touma) came out and did the test with me, grabbed my right knee, then grabbed my left knee.
My left knee was sweet, but my right knee was kind of moving a bit.
It didn’t hurt too much, so I thought, “I could be sweet here.”
I jumped up and starting walking off with Trav and I just felt at one point my whole knee completely shifted when I put my weight to it.
Teddy was up in the box in that game, he came down to the sheds when it happened to console me a bit.
I was sitting in my locker, and I just heard Ted say, “Oh no.”
I could tell something was up, I didn’t know who it was or what it was.
I was like, “What happened,” and he goes, “Mate, I think Sammy’s done the same thing.”
30 seconds later, they carried Sammy through onto the medical bed.
It was such an odd situation, I wasn’t even worried about myself at that point.
I think Sammy did his meniscus as well, so he was in a lot more pain and it looked bad.
Everyone was kind of gobsmacked, no one was really talking with each other.
I just sat there with Sam and Ted until half time, then everyone came in and gave us a pat on the head.
We ended up winning the game though, so that was good.
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The first couple of months (of rehab) were alright, I enjoyed being with Sammy and stuff.
It was kind of repetitive, just the same sort of stuff every day and it wasn’t much.
We weren’t really doing any weights, maybe just some upper body stuff and then went home.
It got pretty repetitive there, but now we’re really starting to run and do some lower body weights and stuff.
It’s really exciting, we’ve got a camp coming up.
Me and Sammy are going to go up the coast to do a health and a knee week to really pump into our rehab.
Anyone that knows me knows that I love training hard, I love running.
Now that I’ve sat on my arse for four months, it’s a completely different feel and I don’t feel too good.
I was speaking to Trav about it, when I sit on my arse I don’t feel good, I get headaches, my diet’s not good, I’m kind of just plodding around.
For me just to get back to really hard training is when I’m at my best.
I sleep good when I’m training hard and at the moment sleeping is a bit difficult.
I’m keen to just flog myself again, it’s really hard sitting here knowing I can’t do anything.
Having a break now, I think we’re back later in the month.
I’d say up until January we’ll still be getting our knees right, but we should be good to rip into some tough stuff at the six month mark.
I wouldn’t say contact on the field, but a lot of wrestle and all that stuff with Sam.
I can’t wait to get back to full tilt.
I haven’t set a return date or anything, I don’t care what day it is as long as I’m fully fit and healthy.
I had a joke with Robbo and said, “We’re not playing until we’re both ready. I’m waiting for Sam and he’s waiting for me. We’ll both come off the bench and come onto the field at the same time when we're both ready.”
I remember when it happened on the night, it was in the second half, me and Sammy were putting the braces on.
I said to Sammy, “Mate, this isn’t a good situation, but this is a blessing in disguise that we’re both doing everything together.”
We had a laugh about it.
I don’t know what it is, but we just get on and we’re best mates now.
I’m so lucky that I’ve got one of my best mates just to do everything with.
It’s binded us quite tight, we’ll be mates forever after this.
I think there’s a lot of positives that can be taken from the whole thing.
I spoke to some of the boys who have done their knees.
Before all of this I was kind of slack with my prep.
I just went hard because I was young and because I could.
I think for me, it’s going to be really positive for the rest of my career with stuff like prep.
The way that I prep now, even with things like pilates which I didn’t think I needed to do and didn’t really enjoy.
Now I’ve realised that I’m not invincible and I have to work hard on my body.
I always learn the hard way, so it had to be something like this to give me a bit of a wake-up call.
That’s the best thing I’ll take out of it, how I take care of my body.
It took me an ACL to work that out, even though I was told earlier.
That’s the number one thing I’ll take out of it.