SOLDIERING ON: Ballina rugby forward Josh Piercy, who will be on crutches for six weeks after fracturing his hip in the opening minute of a game against Lennox Head this month.
SOLDIERING ON: Ballina rugby forward Josh Piercy, who will be on crutches for six weeks after fracturing his hip in the opening minute of a game against Lennox Head this month. Jay Cronan

Ballina forward plays through pain

TOUGH or stupid?

It’s the obvious question to be asked of Ballina rugby union player Josh Piercy after he played 79 minutes of a local first-grade match with a fracture in his pelvis.

The 33-year-old sustained a 5cm fracture of the acetabulum – the socket of the ball-and-socket hip joint – in the opening exchanges against arch-rivals Lennox Head recently.

Instead of leaving the field, the experienced back-rower played out the match, invoking memories of
South Sydney prop John Sattler playing on a with a broken jaw in the 1970 Sydney rugby league grand final.

“I guess it’s a mixture ... 50-50,” Piercy chuckled when asked if he was tough or stupid.

“I certainly wouldn’t recommend anyone playing on with a serious injury but while the fracture was painful, a (clean) break would have been a lot worse.

“If I had known it was fractured I would have come off. Perhaps the club can invest in a mobile X-ray machine.”

Piercy’s tale of courage is astonishing considering each movement on the rugby field involved intense pain.

He has since been told by doctors that the injury he sustained is akin to that usually seen in car accidents and he has subsequent appointments with specialists to find out if he will need surgery.

“I got tackled by a player and fell on to my back. My legs came up and another player fell on top of me, driving my left femur into the hip,” he said.

“Because I was on the ground I had nowhere to go. The pain was immense and straight away I thought I had dislocated my hip but as I was laying there I could move my hip and my leg.

“That made me think I had probably strained ligaments or something. I got up and hobbled over to the breakdown and at the next break the physio came out to see if I was okay.

“That was my first first-grade match this season after playing reserve grade most of the year.

“I thought I’d stay on because one of the main reasons I had gone up to first grade was to strengthen the line-outs and there had not even been one yet.”

Piercy said after the initial pain dulled down, he could run at about 50 per cent and still contest the line-out, winning all of the ball thrown to him.

Afterwards he went home and iced the problem area and then he went to the physio the following Monday.

However, it wasn’t until later in the week that he was diagnosed with the 5cm fracture which is separated by 3mm.

Piercy has since been ordered to have six weeks off from working as the mechanic and manager of the Shell Service Station in Ballina.

And although the injury is serious, the backrower has no intention of stepping away from the sport.

“There was some talk I might be back for the grand final but all I have done is lay around on the couch for six weeks so I wouldn’t be ready,” Piercy said.

“I’ve got a premiership before (four first grade and two reserve grade) so I’ll just have a big off-season and play next year.

“The boys (Ballina) probably always thought I was a bit soft but now I’ve toughed out a fracture.”

Piercy will act as the ground manager for this weekend’s major semi-finals at Quays Reserve, where
Ballina will contest first, second and third grade.

In first grade and third grade the Seahorses will face off with Lismore City, while they will meet Lennox Head in reserve grade.

In Under-19s, Wollongbar-Alstonville will play Lismore.

Entry to the ground is $8 with gates opening at 10am and kick-off in third grade at 11am.


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