Touched Woods savours full fitness after career was in doubt
June 19, 2013
“The surgeon was saying that I might not be able to run as an elite athlete again” said Wests Tigers and NSW prop Aaron Woods.
Aaron Woods just wanted to play football again. Anywhere, any time, with the bright lights of State of Origin the furthest thing from his mind. But now, as he prepares to make his NSW debut next Wednesday, the Wests Tigers prop revealed how injury almost robbed him of his career before it ever took off.
It was 2010, when a hamstring injury restricted him to just three appearances in the under-20s. He played in round one and then the final two games of that season after tearing his hamstring tendon off the bone. The diagnosis seemed dire and his career was in doubt.
‘‘The surgeon was saying that I might not be able to run as an elite athlete again,’’ Woods said. ''I missed a whole season with the hammie. I just wanted to play footy. I tore the tendon off the bone.
‘‘It happened at training. It just never came good. I kept trying to come back two or three weeks later and it just completely tore off.’’
A year later, Woods made his first grade debut and has since gone on to become one of the best young props in the game. Another training mishap threatened to derail his campaign this season; he had to have surgery to his knee just two weeks before the season proper after falling on a football that left him on a monitored training regime.
He is back to full fitness and had gone close to making his debut in game one, but was overlooked in favour of close friend and former teammate Andrew Fifita. Woods gets his chance after the suspension of James Tamou. He held off challenges from Tim Grant and Aiden Tolman to take his place in the starting line-up.
Tolman said he couldn’t argue about Woods being called up before him. ‘‘I’m sure there are guys who’ve played Origin and think he’s going to do the job, so good on him; he’s a great player … I’m sure he’ll do a good job,’’ he said.
Woods said he wasn’t too disappointed to miss game one. ''I knew the other boys had been playing good footy. I’m lucky enough to get a call for game two."
Before Woods could enter Blues camp, he had to play for the Tigers against Brisbane on Monday night, having learnt of his Origin selection the day before. He said he wasn’t distracted, and toiled through a 51-minute effort, making 126 metres from 14 runs, with teammate Liam Fulton the next best forward with 65 metres in the Tigers’ loss.
“If you think about what’s going to happen you’re going to get injuries,” Woods said. “I just wanted to win for the Tigers.”
Woods was told of his selection by NSW coach Laurie Daley over the phone. While Daley told him to keep his selection a secret, Woods was allowed to tell his mum.
“She had a bit of tears in the eyes,‘’ Woods said. ''I told her she had to calm down because all the boys were around.”