CLINTON GUTHERSON – 

I knew almost immediately. 

While my mind was doing it’s best to be oblivious in the moment, I knew straight away what had just happened.

There is always a big popping sound when you sustain an ACL injury, and on this occasion it was no different.

Mentally, and physically, my body did all it could to ignore the pain in my right knee.

I sort of hopped straight back up and tried to defend my line as it was the final minutes of the game.

It wasn’t until I got back in the sheds, once the physios and doctors had properly assessed me, did they suspect it could be an ACL rupture.

Simply put, I was gutted. Absolutely devastated.

You work so hard all year, in hope of playing deep into finals, and we were on the brink of our finals campaign.

I couldn’t help but let my emotions get the better of me in the rooms; all the boys could see how distraught I was, and did their best to put their arms around me.

Even now, it’s really hard to explain the emotions I was feeling that day.

After the game, I remember heading to get the scans. It only took the doctor 20 minutes to call me back to confirm the worst.

That’s when it really hurt and sunk in. I wouldn’t be playing another minute of footy in 2017.

In just one tackle, one second of a game, it can all be taken away from you.

You instantly start questioning everything; what if I had just been somewhere else on the field? Should I have even been involved in the play?

You can’t help but start thinking about those things.

For a couple of weeks post-surgery, I didn’t want to speak to anyone; I was just at home feeling really depressed. Angry with the situation, and frustrated at everyone.

It was a really hard and challenging time for me.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MAY 14: Clinton Gutherson of the Eels is assisted from the field injured during the round 10 NRL match between the Sydney Roosters and the Parramatta Eels at Allianz Stadium on May 14, 2017 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – MAY 14: Clinton Gutherson of the Eels is assisted from the field injured during the round 10 NRL match between the Sydney Roosters and the Parramatta Eels at Allianz Stadium on May 14, 2017 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)

Thankfully, that didn’t last long, as you quickly realise you need to find a way out and start embracing the people who are doing their best to lift your spirits back up.

You start appreciating more than ever that footy is such a small part of what you do in this world, and so you have to move on pretty quickly so you can start enjoying life again.

The best thing for me was heading back to the footy club.

There was so much positive energy around the place with the team heading into the finals, and as soon as I got back around the boys, I think their spirits even lifted as well.

They enjoyed me being back, and I enjoyed seeing them all again.

From that point on, all I wanted to do was come back quicker and stronger than ever.

Parramatta did ask me if I wanted to head away for a couple of weeks, but I flat out said no.

I wanted to be around the boys, the Eels vibe and the strong team culture as the energy of the place was so contagious all I wanted to do was start putting in the hard yards for my recovery.

As I said, this isn’t the first time I’ve damaged my ACL – I also went under the knife in 2014 to repair the same knee.

In positive news, I’m pleased to share with everyone that my recovery is on track; in fact it actually seems a lot quicker this time around as I’m progressing through stages more swiftly.

I don’t really think about the injury anymore, which in turn is sometimes a bad thing as I have to be really careful when walking to and from places.

As my surgeon reminded me last week, you only need to step into a pothole and your knee can bend the wrong way. Which is the last thing I want.

But I feel it is coming along really well; I am building my strength back in the weights room, and already doing lower-leg movements including lunges and squats.

Believe it or not, it doesn’t take long to get your quads and hamstrings restored, you can start doing these not too long after surgery as there isn’t significant risk of injury.

I’m now 11 weeks since the knee operation, and if I receive the green light from club medical staff, I’ll be commence running next week and then really start to build from there.

My physios and doctors are happy with my progress, so I’m happy!

And I’m looking forward to being a lot happier when I can get back to playing footy.

2017 was a great year for the team, and myself personally; I just really enjoyed playing this year.

Going out every week on the playing field and having fun with my mates. That’s what footy is about, and that is when I am performing at my best.

I can’t wait to do it all again next year.