As Scott Murrell headed to hospital in the back of an ambulance last Sunday, you could forgive him for not being his jovial self.
Halifax were six days away from their highly-anticipated Challenge Cup semi-final clash with St Helens, and Murrell was set to be the man to lead the part-timers into battle.
But that was put into jeopardy. The charismatic halfback was forced to undergo scans on a nasty injury picked up in their defeat to Dewsbury, which sparked an awful sense of déjà vu for Fax’s talisman.
13 years ago, Murrell missed out on playing in a Challenge Cup semi-final, coincidentally for the last time Championship side that reached the last four stage, Hull Kingston Rovers.
For a brief time, he thought history was going to repeat itself.
“I was thinking that, f*****g hell, why me again,” he revealed after doctors forced him to put a neck brace on.
“It would have been a huge blow, it’s one of the biggest game I’ll have played in my career. I’d have been devastated.”
But anyone who knows Scott Murrell wouldn’t have been overly concerned. Murrell’s physique might regularly be the butt of jokes, but it does little to deter from his durability. In his seven seasons at Fax, you can count on one pair of hands how many games he’s been unavailable. If you thought he was going to miss this game, you’d be badly mistaken.
“I knew it was nothing serious,” he insists.
“I could move my legs and arms and I was sending Grixy pictures and videos to prove I was OK. I think he found it funny that I was in a neck brace to be honest. In the end they told me it was just a bit of whiplash.”
Murrell is now ready to lead his troops into a contest against the country’s best side. While few are giving them even the remotest chance of victory, the experienced halfback isn’t willing to rule out anything.
“Every game you go into you go wanting to win. They’re the best team in the country, there’s no doubt about that. But despite all that I’d never say never, not with our guys, There’s always that chance.
“I’ve had a long career but all I’ve won is the Championship. There’s still that hunger to win every game and achieve more. This is one of the biggest games I’ve played during my career.”
But don’t think he won’t enjoy the occasion either, even if his coach has tried. “I’ve had a normal haircut, Grixy told me if I got a line in it he’d drop me,” he jokes in typical fashion.
“We’ll give it a good crack. We’ve a good set of boys and we’ll rip in. The fans deserve this too. They’ve been brilliant. We’ve just been out to Toronto and I couldn’t believe how much blue and white there was.
“I just enjoy playing and I’ll always give 100%. So long as I’m staying fit and enjoying it I’ll carry on.”