Craig Wing has spent virtually the majority of his time with South Sydney on the sidelines. After being smashed by Riley Brown only minutes into his first appearance in 2008, Wing has not only had to battle injuries, but emotional and financial disasters too.
Wing has even mentioned the word depression, such was the black hole he found himself in.
His return this weekend has been the milestone in the distance. Wing, still only 29, has had to deal with his shoulder drama from last year, the break-up of his long-term relationship and massive financial losses that have tested every bit of his strength.
“The ups and down I’ve had, with injuries and everything that’s happened in my personal life, has made me appreciate whatever time I get on the field,” Wing confirmed
“I was depressed. I felt worthless. I certainly went through a tough time”
“That’s why it’s so good to be coming back and finally getting on the field.”
But as Craig Wing comes onto the field against the Knights this weekend, not only with he feel the pressures form within – there will be thousands of eyes watching and waiting with expectation.
After making the switch from Bondi back to Redfern, Wing is yet to give anything back to his beloved Bunnies club.
When the Rabbitohs exploded out of the blocks in Round 1, putting on a clinic against the Roosters – everything was set to make Craig Wings appearance even tougher. If the club was winning and winning-well, his return would have to be nothing short of brilliant, otherwise he would have copped flack.
After a hard fought loss against the Eels, it eases the pressure level slightly on Wing.
Prior to this season, Wing also had to have additional operations – having work done on a hernia, hip and his achilles tendons.
But just to test him even more, a failed $100,000 third-party payment as a portion of his $1million deal with Souths had not materialised.
On top of that, Wing was informed a property investment he made in Port Vila to the tune of $600,000 also collapsed.
Then to top it off, his long-term relationship with Zoe Foster ended.
“It’s been an emotional roller-coaster,” he said.
“It has certainly made me appreciate my footy more.
“I won’t take anything for granted again.”
The rumour mill was also in overdrive – working against Wing, with suggestions he didn’t have the respect of his team mates. This being a possible reason he wasn’t included in last weeks starting lineup.
But Wing quickly scoffed at any such allegations.
He played in the NSW Cup last week coming through the North Sydney feeder team, however insiders at Souths said that some players had wanted Wing in the first grade team against the Eels.
“I’m not feeling any pressure to perform,” Wing said.
“My teammates have been very supportive of me because of the injuries I’ve had.
“I feel like I’m part of the team. I get along with all of the boys.
“It’s been hard to feel a part of it all because of the issues I’ve had.”
But for a player thats experienced State of Origin and Australian Representative duties, the heat surrounding his return will be taken in the stride. There is no questioning the ability of this guy, he just needs a string of games without injury and he will add plenty of impact to this ever-improving South Sydney team.
As it stands, Souths certainly have the fire-power and defence to be a Top 4 side in the 2009 NRL.