Tigers’ Simon Dwyer refusing to quit NRL
April 19, 2012 - 7:54PM
He’s been told he won’t play rugby league again, but the memory of seeing his father defy surgeons who wanted to amputate his leg is giving Simon Dwyer hope of return to the NRL next year.
In a blistering start to the 2011 campaign, Dwyer scored five tries in 16 games for the Wests Tigers, with comparisons being made with NSW back-row great Brad Clyde.
His form was rewarded with a call-up to the City Origin side last April in what looked to be the first of many representative appearances.
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However, on a chilly June evening at Campbelltown, Dwyer’s world caved in.
A routine tackle on Michael Hodgson left him temporarily paralysed from the neck down after the back of his neck caught the hip of the Canterbury prop.
Doctors diagnosed a brachial plexus injury - an issue where nerves from the spinal column that control the arm and hand movement are damaged.
A marathon 16-hour operation followed with surgeons removing the nerve from his diaphragm and re-attaching it to his right shoulder.
“As soon as it happened, I couldn’t feel anything from the neck down, so I was pretty scared, but thankfully it started to come back,” Dwyer said.
“I’ve watched the incident a few times on video. It was just unlucky and one of those things that can happen.”
Ten months on and Dwyer is still in a sling and unable to use his arm.
Gone is the 101kg frame that left Sydney Roosters enforcer Jared Waerea-Hargreaves seeing stars during the 2010 finals campaign after a memorable hit.
He looks more like a winger these days, tipping the scales at 93kg, but it’s a big improvement on the whopping 18kg he shed post-surgery.
“I am putting it back on,” he said.
“I do bicep curls with my left arm, leg weights - it’s just my right arm I can’t use,” he said.
While he’s been sidelined, Dwyer’s been employed as a video analyst by the Tigers - a move that keeps him involved with the team, while not taking up space on the salary cap.
And if the doctors get their way, that’s where he’ll stay.
But their pleas have fallen on deaf ears, just as they did when his father Paul was advised to have his leg amputated following a car accident.
“My dad had gangrene in his leg and they wanted to take it off but he said ‘no’,” said Dwyer.
"Now he’s walking, running and got full use of it again. He did it and so will I.
"Heaps of players have been told they won’t play again by doctors and are running around and I will be one of those.
“One of our under-20s physios at the Tigers had a brachial plexus and he’s played again so I know it’s possible.”
Dwyer is back in City camp working as an assistant coach to Brad Fittler for Sunday’s City-Country clash in Mudgee.
He’ll then spend at least another four months in the sling, before he plans to make a remarkable return to action at the start of next season.
“Freddie rang me out of the blue. I was really shocked and surprised, but really happy as well,” he said.
"I’m enjoying it, but I just want to play again and next year is my target.
"The hit on Hargreaves is definitely a highlight of my career.
“It still gets shown a lot on TV, but I am determined to make it one of many they show.”