Gregg McNally can remember the exact time he knew he needed to turn his back on full-time rugby for the sake of his family.
His wife Rosey has AVN (avascular necrosis) – a condition which kills bone tissue due to interruption of the blood supply – and at 28, needs operations to replace both hips and at least one knee.
The NHS will not carry out the surgery until she is 35, but such is her quality of life at the moment, the family are raising funds to have the treatment immediately and she will have her first hip replaced at the end of this month.
It’s been an incredibly difficult time for the McNally family, including children Bella, six, and Harry, five.
And for dad Gregg, it has meant leaving behind his career as a full-time player at Bradford Bulls to be closer to the family home in Leigh.
The 28-year-old Whitehaven product and former Huddersfield man, who first played for Leigh from 2012-17, explained:
“I was at a Bradford game against Whitehaven, although I wasn’t playing because I was injured,” he said.
“Rosey had fallen over at home and thought her knee had gone completely, and I got stuck on the M62 on the way back and it took me an hour and 20 minutes. I was stressing and thinking ‘I can’t do this any more’.
“We moved to Leigh from Huddersfield in 2014 and we’ve made it our home – the kids love it and have their friends here and we’ll probably be here forever now.
“Being back at Leigh has been brilliant. I can spend a lot more time at home, drop the kids off at school and it’s a five minute walk to training.”
Ireland international McNally admits it’s been a difficult time for his whole family, ever since Rosey first felt pain in her leg after a run in 2017.
“I expected her to be out for 30 to 40 minutes but she was back in 10 minutes and in a lot of pain,” he explained.
“She used to run a lot, so we thought it was a bit of wear and tear or she might need a clean-out, but after seeing physios the pain got worse and worse to the extent she couldn’t properly get around the house.
“One day the doctor thought it might be more than ligaments and we went for a scan that came up with AVN. We had never heard anything like it and never thought it could be anything as serious as this.
“At first we tried to carry on with normal life, but it was getting to the stage that Rosey couldn’t walk around and do stuff with the kids.
“It’s a well-known disease in America, but there’s been very little research on it done here. And although we did loads online, the doctors here hadn’t had many cases of it.
“They told Rosey to rest up for six months with crutches, but we could tell there was something seriously wrong when it only got worse.”
With the NHS unwilling to carry out any surgery until the age of 35, the family was put in touch with a surgeon in Hull who was prepared to take their case on privately.
Rosey will have her first hip replacement this month at a cost of £15,000.
The family has been fundraising under the ‘Two Hips One Knee’ banner with a host of events arranged in the local area.
McNally added: “When it first started I would be saying, ‘when I had a knee injury…’, and Rosey had to tell me she’d not done her ligaments, it was a serious condition.
“She always supported me really well through my injuries and now it’s time for me to repay the favour. We joke that we haven’t got a good bone between us.
“The kids have been very understanding. We sat them down and explained mummy’s knees and hips were sore so she couldn’t do as much as she wanted to. But hopefully, after the operations Rosey will be able to do things with the kids again.”
* The McNally family’s fund-raising efforts can be followed on Twitter @twohipsoneknee.
To donate either money or items for auctions/raffles, direct message the account.