Chester conquers shoulder demons
TOMAS Chester has never been as frustrated about football as he was this season.
Stuck on the sidelines nursing a repaired shoulder, desperation began to set in for the young halfback.
The Cowboys-contracted youngster had never missed games through injury, but after he dislocated his shoulder three times in last year’s grand final, he knew it was inevitable.
During the long days of rehab, the thing that kept him fighting was the thought of taking the field again.
“The Cowboys wanted me to not play this year and get back to full fitness before going into pre-season,” he said.
“I just said I wanted to play so bad. Every day I was into them about it. (Cowboys development coach) Jared Hoare copped it the worst from me. He was the one who looked after me most in rehab and I think he was pretty fed-up with me asking by the end.
“Eventually they said I could play this season and I was stoked. I struggled while I wasn’t playing and I really didn’t think I was going to get to play this season.
“I felt confident in (the shoulder), I haven’t had any complications with it yet.”
The 20-year-old utility has tested the surgeon’s work since coming back into the squad two months ago.
With injuries in the Blackhawks forward pack, Chester has been moved into the middle rotation off the bench and last week was named at lock.
While his teammates have started calling him the Victor
Radley of the Blackhawks, Chester shunned the tagline and said he was just determined to do a job for the side.
Townsville’s Hastings Deering Colts side is 80 minutes away from booking a grand final berth but there is no extra pressure on a squad which has had to go the hard way to get there.
“When I was in the 18s, I played pretty much every position in the side,” Chester said. “I missed all this season, so I don’t care where I play as long as I am on the field.
“I think my shoulders have been copping a hiding in the middle but they’re holding up. It is good fun in there, just running hard and tackling heaps. I get pretty buggered in the middle but it’s great.
“All the boys have a fair bit of grit. We are the smallest team (in the competition) by a mile, but punch above our weight. There are no nerves, training has been pretty good and everyone is confident.
“We have a couple of lads out but the boys who are filling in are there to do a job, and we will do it.”
Chester will join the Cowboys’ first-grade squad for preseason training next month.
The Young Gun is on a train-and-replacement block alongside fellow Blackhawks half Jake Bourke.