EVERYONE knows that rugby league players are some of the toughest people out there, having to contend with life-changing injuries and outside pressures for an entire career.
But, sometimes, the injuries make you wince – especially given the length of time it can rule a player out for.
After breaking through the Wakefield Trinity first-team in 2022 to make 24 appearances and score 19 tries, Lewis Murphy suffered a horror ACL injury in March last year – an injury which ruled him out of the entire 2023 Super League season.
As the 21-year-old sat on the sidelines and went through rehab on his own, Trinity flopped on the field, winning just four league games all year.
For Murphy, it was “the toughest year” of his life.
“It was probably the toughest year of my life going through the injury, being sat on the sidelines, being by yourself in the gym and then watching the team that you love and where you made your name and breakthrough go down and get relegated especially with Mark Applegarth – who brought me through and found me – as coach, it was tough to watch,” Murphy told League Express.
“I didn’t think it would impact me mentally because I’m quite strong mentally but it did affect me because sometimes you feel like you’re not a rugby league. You’re in the gym all the time and every day feels the same.”
So what went wrong at Wakefield during the 2023 Super League season?
“It was a mix of a lot of things. There was a new coach that came in meaning there was a lot of stuff to adjust to, but I still think we had the quality of players and coach with Mark Applegarth.
“I just don’t know really. Because I wasn’t on the field it’s hard to get a grip of what’s going on. I don’t really know.
“Mash (Mark Applegarth) was good for me, he will always be the guy I go back to because he taught me a lot of stuff about rugby.
“He was the one that brought me through the college system when I didn’t have a club and then he brought me through to the first-team. I’ll always have fond memories of him.”
Of course, Wakefield are now in a much better place in the second tier than in Super League, with new owner Matt Ellis bringing in former Castleford Tigers boss Daryl Powell and a whole new coaching staff.
New players galore have also made their way through the doors at Belle Vue, and Murphy believes it was needed.
“I think it’s great for the club. They will go into a new era which was needed after relegation. They needed a revamp with all the stadium.
“Speaking to my friend Isaac Shaw, who I’m close with and who lives where I used to back home, he’s still at Wakefield and he said it’s going really well. It’s very positive.”
Though Murphy’s NRL career is just beginning with the Sydney Roosters after signing a two-year deal, would he ever consider a move back to Super League in the future?
“I haven’t really thought about it at the moment because I’ve got two years on my contract here.
“But, if things didn’t work out, I would probably move back to Super League, but my main goal is to make it over in Australia and have a long career here.”
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