James Hooper Sunday Telegraph. Feb. 05
STROLL into the Wests Tigers gymnasium, tucked underneath the club’s Concord headquarters, and you might expect to see Robbie Farah, Lote Tuqiri or Benji Marshall.
The sight of Simon Dwyer punching out single-arm shoulder presses, bench presses or bicep curls, with his right arm in a sling, represents one of rugby league’s most inspirational stories.
Dwyer was the Ingleburn junior raised in Macquarie Fields, who announced his arrival as one of the NRL’s most exciting young forwards with that shoulder charge on the Roosters’ Jared Waerea-Hargreaves in the 2010 finals.
Just when it seemed nothing could go wrong, Dwyer suffered a rare brachial plexus nerve injury in his neck in July.
It’s been a rough road since, including waiting two months for the feeling in his right arm to return. When it didn’t, Dwyer had 16 hours on the operating table at Royal North Shore hospital.
“Basically I was told I had to have the operation within three months if the feeling didn’t return,” Dwyer said.
"During that three months, I was speaking to people overseas such as the Livestrong Foundation and the Mayo clinic. I engaged in conversation over Skype with them, but there were no guarantees with anything, so I realised the best option was to stay here in
The surgery was a success and Dwyer must now play the waiting game.
You will still find him inside team meetings with coach Tim Sheens and the Tigers at Concord, assisting as one of the club’s statisticians.
His right arm still sits in a sling, but with his left Dwyer is able to move a mouse and work on a computer.
Come lunch time, he hits the gym, lifting weights, walking on a treadmill or pedalling an exercise bike.
“The doctors have told me to keep my fitness up and to stay as healthy as possible, so I try and get into the gym at least four days a week,” Dwyer said. "The nerves run throughout your whole body, so if you’re exercising other parts of your body it could run into your arm.
"I’m looking to return to rugby league in 2013 and I’ll be doing everything I can to make that happen.
“I’m interested in learning the recruitment side of things, too. I want to get out to some of the schoolboy carnivals later in the year to see how that works.”
After opting against travelling overseas for surgery, Dwyer had a nerve from his diaphragm re-directed into his right shoulder.
Doctors also re-directed a nerve from his scapula to his right arm and a nerve from the left side of his neck to the right side of his body.
The complicated procedure meant spending a week in hospital and losing some feeling in his left arm as well, which has since returned.
“Basically, there are five nerves in your neck that filter through your whole arm and they call it a plexus because they all interact with each other,” Dwyer said.
“Four of mine were ripped out and one was damaged all the way to the spinal cord.”
Six months on, the Wests Tigers backrower refuses to give up hope of resurrecting his NRL career.
A regular poker player at Ingleburn RSL, the gambler in Dwyer says to hell with the odds.
Whenever he feels like the walls are starting to close in on him a little, he turns to his father, Paul.
“Dad was in a car accident and he broke his leg and got gangrene in it,” Dwyer said.
"The doctors told him they were going to chop his leg off, but he said, ‘no way, I’m not doing that’.
"And his leg came good.
“That’s inspirational. He believed in himself, just like I believe in myself.”
Next month, Dwyer hopes to have some more outward movement in his arm from his deltoids.
In another four months, he hopes to do a full bicep curl with his right arm.
“Then after that it varies for the hand and wrist function. The worst is gone, now I’ve just got to wait and see what happens,” he said.
“I just want to thank all the fans for all their support through the bad times and I’ll see them in 2013.”
This bloke is just super.
Most would have thought it would have been too tough or taken the easy option and folded it in, but he keeps plugging away in the firm belief that it will come good. It’s an inspiring story and there are many out there, not just WT fans, that want to see this guy come good and back on the field.
Chin up Simon, looking forward to your return.
Cudos to Simon for the terrific attitude he has shown - has always shown rather. There will always be players who need knee and shoulder reconstructions each year, and they’re terrible injuries to go through, but to suffer what Simon has, and not have any feeling in your arm, well that would terrify pretty much everyone I’m sure. The way he’s going though in his recovery and rehab, I won’t be surprised if he runs out in a Tigers jersey next year.
Typical Telegraph crap: obviously either couldn’t be bothered to find out the actual medical prognosis or didn’t understand it so just bunged in a bunch of meaningless platitudes about “Dwyer says to hell with the odds” (why, are the odds bad?) and “The surgery was a success and Dwyer must now play the waiting game”. It would have been nice to get an idea of whether Dwyer is working hard but realistically a long shot, or whether he’s on a long road back but normal progress should see him recover in time.
Anyway, and while I’d rather he’d given an interview to a reputable news organisation, it’s great to see Dwyer working hard and (possibly) on the mend. I’m also glad the club is keeping him involved.
Hey Simon, just read the article in the paper (after all the other articles since “that game”) and just wanted to say that you’re such an inspiration.
If we really are honest, in all our lives, challenges are there all the time, and we are being repeatedly tested as to how we respond.
It seems too easy to simply say it’s one day at a time.
But, guess what?
And mate that’s what you’re doing.
With such focus and determination.
Bit by bit.
Day by day.
Like I wish we all were, mate, you’re a champion.