OVERCOMING ADVERISTY: Former South Sydney halfback Terry Litton has overcome an acquired brain injury and blindness to play Physical Disability Rugby and represented Australia in New Zealand in 2017.
OVERCOMING ADVERISTY: Former South Sydney halfback Terry Litton has overcome an acquired brain injury and blindness to play Physical Disability Rugby and represented Australia in New Zealand in 2017. Janene Litton

Getting disabled players back on the field

WHEN former South Sydney junior halfback Terry Litton suffered a brain aneurysm in 2009, it meant the end of his sporting life.

But after years of rehabilitation, Litton, 53, who lives at East Ballina, has become enamoured with playing in the Physical Disability Rugby League (PDRL).

Now he's preparing to represent the Common- wealth All Stars when he plays in an exhibition match at the 2018 Rugby League Commonwealth Championships this month.

And he is calling for expressions of interest from people with disabilities such as traumatic brain injury, acquired brain injury, stroke, limb weakness, upper and lower amputees, cerebral palsy and other conditions classed as a disability, who have been prevented from playing the game.

It's been a long and arduous road to recovery for Litton, who said PDRL had been critical to getting back to where he was before his illness.

"After having major brain surgery in 2011, I came out of the operation totally blind in the right eye and with only 30 per cent vision in my left," he said.

"I have an acquired brain injury so I'm a bit weak on my left side and I went through hell with all the anti-seizure drugs."

Litton said focusing on getting fit enough to play again last year was a key to getting through the tough times.

In 2017 he played in New Zealand in the PDRL Nines.

Litton said while the competition had been running in Sydney since 2014, it's time it was available here.

"Now I want to help others by getting a Physical Disability Rugby League team established on the Northern Rivers and it will be the first area outside Sydney," he said.

"We are trying to get some interest so people know it's out there."

And it's not just people injured as adults who can sign up to play.

Litton says in Sydney, where he plays for the Rabbitohs, a mate who has a prosthesis takes the field in the competition, which has been going since 2014.

"I went down to Sydney last season and played for South's," he said.

"While I grew up playing league, there's lots of guys playing who were born with a disability and until now have not had an opportunity to play this wonderful game."

Litton said everyone, men and women, over the age 10 were welcome to get in touch.

"We can take players from the age of 10," he said. "They have to wear red shorts until they are 16 to indicate they can't be tackled."

 

His wife Janene said PDRL had literally saved her husband.

"It's given him his life back because 2015 was a horror story; he had a lot of time in hospital," she said.

"Terry has red and green blood through his veins; he's always been into football through and through.

"He knows what people go through and for him to be so sick and to come back to what he knows so well, well PDRL has been the world to him."

Anyone interested should phone Terry Litton on 0476-156300.



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