Rugby league's toughest grand final performances.
Rugby league's toughest grand final performances.

Rugby league’s toughest GF performances

WILL Cooper Cronk push through the pain to play in an NRL grand final on Sunday?

The Roosters halfback is racing the clock to prove to coach Trent Robinson he can do a job in the big dance, but even if he does make it onto the field he'll be playing with one arm.

His busted left shoulder is hanging by a thread from all reports. He bravely carried it for an entire half of football in the preliminary final last week.

And if he can crawl out of the casualty ward and onto ANZ Stadium to lead the Bondi boys to victory, Cronk will enter rugby league folklore.

And the men he'll join in that realm are some of the most revered and toughest to ever play the game.

These are men who have soldiered on through broken bones and busted lungs to stand side-by-side with their teammates and fight for glory.

These are some the toughest grand final performances of all time.

 

1970 - JOHN SATTLER

The original grand final horror story, and still one of the best.

The tough-as-nails South Sydney captain had his jaw broken three minutes into the premiership decider.

It was a stray whack from Sea Eagles prop John Bucknall that fractured the bone, and Rabbitohs staff tried to take Sattler off the field to be examined.

But the skipper refused to walk away from the fight, and remained on the field despite the painful injury.

Sattler made 20 tackles and had 29 possessions in the 77 minutes he played with the broken jaw, as he led South Sydney to a stunning 23-12 victory at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

 

John Sattler is chaired from the field with his broken jaw.
John Sattler is chaired from the field with his broken jaw.

 

 

1997 - ANDREW JOHNS

Of course the greatest player to ever strap on a boot (don't yell at me) is responsible for the greatest grand final moment ever.

Johns had been smashed playing for Newcastle a couple of weeks earlier and broken a couple of ribs. When he played through the pain in the preliminary final, the half-time painkilling injection punctured his lung.

He was taken to hospital and told by doctors he was no chance of lacing up for the grand final.

But Joey defied orders and ran out for the Knights with a bunch of dodgy ribs and one lung, and set up Darren Albert for the most famous try in rugby league.

 

Andrew and Matthew Johns celebrate the 1997 grand final.
Andrew and Matthew Johns celebrate the 1997 grand final.

 

 

2014 - SAM BURGESS

The big Englishman imitated the other heroic South Sydney skipper with his own performance in the 2014 decider.

Much like Sattler many years earlier, Burgess had his cheekbone broken. This time it was the very first hit-up of the game, and he collided with James Graham's noggin in a brutal head clash.

The fiery forward knew immediately how bad the injury was, but refused to leave the field.

Entering the sheds at half-time to told the broadcaster; "it's fooked" ... whatever that means.

Burgess led the Bunnies to victory against the Bulldogs and the images of him being chaired off with a busted face will live on forever.

 

South Sydney's Sam Burgess is chaired from the field with his busted cheek.
South Sydney's Sam Burgess is chaired from the field with his busted cheek.

 

 

2004 - CHRIS FLANNERY

This Rooster is largely unheralded but his grand final story needs to be told more.

He copped a knee to the family jewels during the NRL preliminary final, and was later told one of his testicles had ruptured.

On the Monday he underwent surgery on the busted nut ... a procedure most men would rather not pay much thought to.

And in a show of true bravery, he put some padding around the area and lined up for the Chooks against Canterbury on grand final day.

 

Chris Flannery played through the 2004 decider with one testicle.
Chris Flannery played through the 2004 decider with one testicle.

 

 

2000 - SHANE WEBCKE

This Broncos prop was one of the toughest players to ever strap on a boot.

Webcke suffered a badly broken arm which doctors told him would need eight weeks to heal ... so six weeks later he strapped it up and marched back out onto the field.

The amount of padding on his arm was about the same as what was wrapped around the goalpost on the day.

Webcke helped Brisbane win the preliminary final, and then beat the Chooks in the decider a week later in what was an inspirational effort.

 

Broncos tough nut Shane Webcke shows off his arm strapping.
Broncos tough nut Shane Webcke shows off his arm strapping.


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