He suffered one of the rarest injuries possible in the NRL, and despite being told that he may never play NRL again, young Tigers second-rower Simon Dwyer is becoming an inspiration to others, as he works tirelessly to regain the strength he has lost, since his injury.
Dwyer is a key sight in the Tigers gym, as he punches out single-arm shoulder presses, bench presses and bicep curls, all with his right arm in a sling, due to his injury.
When Dwyer made his NRL debut, the Ingleburn junior made a quick impression, with that huge shoulder charge that everyone remembers on Roosters forward Jarad Warea-Hargreaves, in the 2010 NRL finals.
He also made the City Origin side, and was named in the NSW Emerging Squad, when the rarest NRl injury struck – a brachial plexus injury.
The road to recovery has not been easy for the young forward, with the feeling in his arm not returning for 2 months, followed by a 16-hour operation in the 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 Australia.”
With the surgery a success, Dwyer is doing all he can to stay involved with the club, being present at team meetings, and assisting the club statisticians.
“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.”
Dwyer decided against travelling overseas to have his surgery, has he had a nerve from his diaphragm re-directed to his injured right shoulder, as well as two other nerves, re-directed.
“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.”
Dwyer is determined however, and despite the injury, he refuses to give up on playing in the NRL again.
An inspiration throughout his entire ordeal, Dwyer looks up to his father, when the going gets tough.
“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.”
Dwyer hopes that as the months progress, he can slowly get more power and strength back in his arm, and get back to his usual self.
“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.”