O’Neill enjoying return from injury
COWBOYS centre Justin O’Neill felt sick as he clutched his dislocated elbow, fearing his season was likely over.
Twisted awkwardly in a tackle at Melbourne in round 23, the 26-year-old looked long odds of being sighted again in 2017.
But thanks to his teammates who continue to defy the odds, plus a smidgen of help from the Dragons, O’Neill is back where he belongs.
Having missed the past five weeks, O’Neill played strongly in Saturday’s 24-16 win over Parramatta, which booked the Cowboys a preliminary final date with the Roosters in Sydney.
“I’ve had more painful injuries, the fractured back was a lot more painful than that,” he said.
“It was more a sickening injury, I felt pretty sick walking off the field after they popped it back in.”
O’Neill was already starting to accept this year had been cut short. But two weeks into the recovery process, he found a sliver of hope.
“My initial thoughts after the swelling came down was it looked pretty bad, I probably thought my season was over,” O’Neill said. “But two weeks in, it felt really good and the strength was there, I was surprised by the function I was getting.”
Injuries have forced the Cowboys to use 32 players this season, but the fringe players have managed to step up and keep the side in the fight.