Gareth Ellis – Treading a fine line between bravery and stupidity

STAY TOUGH: Hull KR's Weller Hauraki is tackled by Hull's Scott Taylor and Joe Westerman, who later put his dislocated knee back in place on the pitch. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe
STAY TOUGH: Hull KR's Weller Hauraki is tackled by Hull's Scott Taylor and Joe Westerman, who later put his dislocated knee back in place on the pitch. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe
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JOE WESTERMAN’S knee has taken the world by storm. That’s a sentence I never thought I would write.

For anyone who hasn’t seen the footage, which has gone viral, Joe suffered a dislocated kneecap in the derby at Hull KR last week, slapped it back into place and played on!

I have never seen anything like that before. I remember when I snapped my Achilles, I watched it back on Sky television and it turned my stomach a little bit, but what Joe did was something else.

He has said it has happened before, but it was a strange one. At first, I thought he had dropped the ball and was trying to juggle it back up.

It wasn’t until I saw a replay, with a bit of bone sticking out of the side of his knee, that I realised what had happened. At first I think the physio thought he had got a bit of cramp, but Joe said ‘no, my kneecap has come out’.

He was told by the medical staff to come off, but as he was leaving the field he said it felt all right and because we didn’t have any subs left and we’d be down to 12 men he wanted to stay on. Tough, or what?

Ultimately it has to be the physio’s call. They are the ones who are trained in this sort of stuff and if there’s a risk of any further injury or making things worse it’s not brave to stay on the field, it is stupid in that situation.

Gareth Ellis

I actually think it is something that is bred into rugby league players as youngsters. I remember when I was nine or 10 years old and the attitude was always ‘you’ll be all right, get up’.

The old magic sponge came out and you’d be told to wipe those tears away and get stuck back in.

That is still there within those players who have come through the amateurs ranks and junior teams; they still have that mentality of not letting their team-mates down and I think it is something we should be really proud of.

Obviously if you are injured, you are injured, but I have heard coaches say unless you have got a broken leg or a limb hanging off you have to get back in the defensive line and help your team out; don’t leave your team to be defending with a man down.

Even if you can just get back and be a number in the line, don’t leave them. It is something rugby league players seem to have in them to do.

The other side of it, of course, is that there’s a difference between being brave and being stupid.

Ultimately it has to be the physio’s call. They are the ones who are trained in this sort of stuff and if there’s a risk of any further injury or making things worse it’s not brave to stay on the field, it is stupid in that situation.

Go back 10 or 15 years and the bloke who stumbles around the field for five minutes and then stays on after getting a head knock was seen as the ultimate warrior and a brave man.

Now that has been taken out of the player’s hands. You show any signs of concussion or a head knock and you’ll have to leave the field.

It happened to me this year against Leeds. I got a bang to the head and stayed down for a bit and the doctor said to me, because I had been motionless for a few seconds, they weren’t even going to go through the protocol or do the head test, I wasn’t going to go back on.

At that moment, I felt all right, but the medics know what they are talking about and it’s just as important to listen to them and follow their advice as it is to be brave and want to help your team by staying on the field.