When you snap your Achilles, the pain feels almost like you are being electrocuted right through your body.
I know that as it has happened to me. I know just what Josh Griffin went through when it happened agonisingly for him in our Betfred Challenge Cup semi-final on Saturday.
Obviously, there was a lot of talk about Griff’s injury as, when he let go of the ball when his Achilles tore, Theo Fages picked it up and scored a try for Saints.
Some people have been saying Griff should have kept hold of it.
It is difficult. As a kid you are always told to keep hold of the ball until the ref’ blows his whistle and I didn’t know he’d done his Achilles initially.
I just thought he’d gone down injured and thrown the ball to one side. So, I was the same thinking ‘you have to keep hold of the ball, Griff…!’
But when I did my Achilles I didn’t have possession when it happened.
I started to think, would I have kept hold of the ball if I had when it feels like someone has slammed a sledgehammer into my back from out of the blue with no one around me…?
Probably not. I imagine it would be the last thing I’d be thinking about.
My feeling on it is I don’t blame Griff for doing that in the slightest.
I’ve experienced that initial thud and shock of pain that goes searing through not just your Achilles but right through your body. It’s awful.
And similarly I don’t blame Fages for picking the ball up and scoring. It’s exactly what I’d have done and is exactly what I’d probably expect our players to do, too. It all happened in a split-second.
The argument would be could the referee have blown his whistle having seen what had happened but you’re talking again in the blink of an eye and it’s a difficult decision to make.
There’s not a lot of complaints around from us as a club as it’s just one of those unfortunate things. I don’t blame anyone really. Obviously, there was huge disappointment at the loss, especially as we’d fought back so well from 20-2 to get to 21-18.
I really thought we could push on and do it. We were finishing the stronger of the two teams especially when Jake Connor kicked his 40/20.
It was almost like the 2016 final when Marc Sneyd kicked that 40/20 and we saw how much it lifted the boys and does the opposite to the opposition.
For how good St Helens were for the majority of the game on the weekend – as Warrington were at Wembley in 2016 – I just felt we were finishing the stronger of the two teams.
There was still eight minutes left and I could see Saints were struggling but we’ve said before, there’s fine margins between losing and winning. If Jake’s final pass finds the mark and I could be writing something totally different today.
But I am so disappointed for Griff given how well he’s playing for us, obviously the prospect of playing in a World Cup and – at the age of 30 – being involved in the England set-up for the first time in his career.
To then get such a devastating injury, I was absolutely gutted for him. In those moments, you can see his brain was thinking all those things: first and foremost, probably the game itself and knowing he’d miss the majority of that, then the rest of the season with Hull FC, all the ramifications of the England v Combined Nations All Stars game in a few weeks’ time…
You could almost see all these opportunities floating away from his brain and disappearing.
It is a tough time this initial three or four days after getting an injury like that.
But it’s really important – and, speaking from experience, I had a chat with him about this – that, as disappointing as he’d be for these next few days, once he gets his plan in place, his operation booked in and things like that, there will be a chance there to go spend time with his family.
He’s got a young boy who won’t care much about his injury. He’ll just want to play with him all the time. That brings you back down to earth and you realise there’s more to life than rugby.
You have some time away before you crack on with your rehab. And, like I said to Griff, I probably had my best year both as a team and as an individual in 2016 – AFTER doing my Achilles in 2015.
So it’s not all doom and gloom and there is light at the end of the tunnel if you can get through this most difficult period of the whole process.
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