Lachlan Fitzgibbon was one of the unsung heroes of a morale-boosting victory for the Newcastle Knights at home on Sunday afternoon.
In his first game back in the top grade this season the second-rower played the full 80 minutes, produced 28 tackles and made 67 metres from 11 hit ups.
But the numbers are only half the story, made even more remarkable by simply staying on McDonald Jones Stadium.
The 23-year-old has since been diagnosed with torn meniscus as well as strain and bleeding of the articular capsule in his knee.
On top of that Fitzgibbon hasn’t been named to play the Panthers this weekend and could be sidelined for a few matches.
It shows the character of the bloke. It shows how far he’s willing to go for the team. It shows how much that red and blue jersey means to him.
Those watching the game on Mother’s Day would have seen footage of Fitzgibbon on the ground writhing in pain during the early stages of the round 10 encounter against a more fancied Canberra Raiders outfit.
At that stage, just 23 minutes in, he had every right to put up his hand and leave the field injured.
It was probably expected and nobody would have flinched considering his initial body language.
But the South Newcastle junior played on. He pushed through the obvious pain barrier. He then rolled up the sleeves and did his bit, allowing the team to prosper.
There were others of course – Daniel Saifiti showed why he has a bright future, Brock Lamb had his best game of the season and skipper Sione Mata’utia nabbed a double.
It shows the character of the bloke. It shows how far he’s willing to go for the team. It shows how much that red and blue jersey means to him."
However, it was the nature of Fitzgibbon’s performance that stuck me most. Something that fans should be proud of.
Because a team that’s willing to work hard for each other is better than just a bunch of talented individuals.
Fitzgibbon typifies that philosophy and hopefully he can return bigger and stronger to make more contributions throughout the campaign.
In the meantime we have a chance to record back-to-back wins for the first time since the end of 2015.
It will be up against a few of my fellow City representatives, but once we cross that line it’s game on!