Pain and Development


Harry Rushton hurt his face playing NSW Cup footy on Saturday, because Nietzsche is right that god is dead and the Raiders can’t have nice things.

I don’t know if Nietzsche actually ever wrote about the Milk, but if the idea that tragedy in art is life affirming wasn’t penned with the Milk in mind then call the cops cos he’s stealing from us. But yes, Harry Rushton has hurt his face, and doesn’t look good. This was first brought to my attention by Blake from Raiders Review with Blake and the Pork. Then Harry posted a picture of his face on his Instagram account and good god is it a sight.

Not good Harry

I’m no doctor but that doesn’t look ideal. At this stage it’s all speculation as to how serious it will be and we wait for the club to let us know. I’m being optimistic because I may have lost my mind. But if worst comes to worst and we see facial fractures start getting discussed, or broken jaws, then it’s not good news. Sia Soliola was out from July 3rd to September 26 in the weirdly shaped 2020 season with a broken jaw. Aidan Sezer saw a month between games when he had a facial fracture in his first game as a Raider in 2016, but that was coming back earlier than expected and after he told the doc to literally cut his face to let out the swelling when he did it (luckily, the team Doc wasn’t swayed by the argument that it worked for Rocky). Campbell Graham recently suffered facial fractures that are expected to keep him out 6-8 weeks. I don’t like any of these outcomes. Here’s hoping for bruising or a black eye and some lost teeth? Ok that just sounds naïve.

Update: NRL Physio says it’s a facial fracture and 8-10 weeks out of the game.

There isn’t immediate impact for the top level side, not unless something another thing goes wrong. Rushton hadn’t played much first grade the last few weeks. Coach Stuart has settled on a rotation of five middles, with only two bench forwards alongside Tom Starling and a rotation back. Combine that with the fact that if one area has been working this season it’s been the pack, it’s meant that the fringe squad members haven’t got to see much game time. Harry hasn’t played first grade since round 11. Corey Harawira-Naera played against the Broncos in round 14, but before that it was round 10. Emre Guler has been playing Cup since round 6. Trey Mooney got 15 minutes in a solitary stint against the Roosters. Peter Hola and Ata Mariota haven’t seen the field. Even if Harry is totally fine, it was unlikely he was going to suiting up for the Storm on Sunday.

The shame of it is the missed opportunities for development. With the Raiders on the brink of moving from being a shot of making the finals to the dreaded ‘mathematical possibility’, there was likely to be a chance to get some more first grade minutes into players like Rushton, Mooney, Hola and Mariota in the back end of the season. With Sutton and Adam Elliott leaving, and Josh Papalii and Elliott Whitehead very much looking their age in recent times, there’s a need to make sure players like Rushton and Mooney (in particular) are ready to play a bigger role if the Milk are to return to the finals next year.

I’ve loved what Harry has offered has offered in the top line. His hard running is supplemented by an excellent football brain, particularly when it comes to decisions about passing and running. Not just a smart footy player, but he’s also highly skilled, and can inject width into the attack with his long passing game. Coupling his minutes with Tom Starling would be an ideal way to get the best out of both – Harry’s ability to bring the width and send defenders eyes outwards complementing Starling’s ability to find even the smallest gap around the ruck. If there was a criticism of his play it’s that he was inexperienced, and needed more time to get used to the pace of the NRL. You can’t do that watching, and that makes this potential injury so frustrating.

Alas that is risked by this unlucky and probably nasty injury. A lucky prognosis may turn that around, but it feels like i’m hoping against hope on that one. If chances for bigger minutes for the younger players occur, it may mean Mooney will get time in the top line, along with some other players in the pathway. But if this situation is as bad as it looks (and Harry my guy I hope you enjoy milkshakes) then it may mean that Rushton won’t be privy to such opportunities.

And that will be bad for Harry, and the Raiders.

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