It was two years ago that Michael Greenfield suffered a mystery neck injury, and he is set to make his comeback in the Charity Shield, with Dragons coach Wayne Bennett more than happy to see Greenfield back.
“It’s a real thrill, actually,” Bennett said yesterday.
“There are plenty of guys out there who have fallen on hard times. There are Michael Greenfields in every team.”
Greenfield, who made his debut as an 18-year old for Cronulla, admits that his early success got to him, as he accepted a big money deal to join Souths in 2006.
He says that in some ways, the neck injury in 2008 actually saved his career, rather than cause detriment to it.
“I’d pinched a nerve in my neck and I managed to finish off playing the season but it was pretty painful,” he recalled.
Then over the  pre-season we did a fair bit of wrestling and at one of those wrestling sessions I went into a tackle and I felt something in my neck go. I tried to manage it and I was going for MRI scans but they didn’t pick anything up. They were saying everything seems normal, so I tried to soldier on.”
2009 brought a change of heart however, as he contacted renowned neurosurgeon Dr Richard Parkinson to find out what the real problem was with his neck.
“I’d lost all the strength in my right side, in my arm and my chest,” he explained. “I could probably only do one or two push ups, all the muscle had slowly deteriorated.
“But I knew he [Dr Parkinson] was good. He’d done Ben Ross a bit earlier and when I woke up after the surgery he said there was a pretty severe disc bulge in my C 6-7 and the pressure was cutting off the nerve being able to send the signal to the muscle.
“I had also chipped a bit of the disc and the bone was floating around where the nerve was. So they had to take out the chipped bit of bone and make room for the nerve to travel through without anything impeding or pinching it. But it was relief straight away.
“I’d been getting that shooting pain down my arm for months and months and in an instant it was gone.”
With Souths struggling to retain Greenfield at the end of 2009, it was a handy tip from Craig Young that got Greenfield on board at the Dragons.
“We played him a few games last year just to lift his enthusiasm when opportunities came along but he’s more ready than he has ever been right now,” Bennett said.
“He had offers to go and they were better offers than we were making him but he knew what he wanted to do.”
For Greenfield, he just wants to be coached under the master coach, Wayne Bennett.
“When I was younger I used to think: the money, the money, the money,” he said.
“Now I just want to be coached by a good coach at a good club and learn my trade.
“With Wayne it’s pretty simple, the way to impress him is just put your head down and try as hard as you can. Work hard on all the little things.”
Whilst there is also major uncertainty over the future of Wayne Bennett, despite persistent rumours, Greenfield says that both he and his team-mates will not be deterred form wise during the season as a result.
“I don’t know what Wayne’s going to do but we will support him no matter what,” he said.
He’s got a family to worry about, we’ve all got families to worry about. I just thank him for the opportunity he gave me.”